The U.S. Labor Department Wednesday said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped by 23,000 in the week that ended Saturday.
Initial benefits claims could still be influenced by Hurricane Sandy, which stalled as the hurricane hit in late October, then surged as jobs were canceled and a backlog of claims posted.
Four weeks after the hurricane, the numbers still appear unsettled. Before the hurricane struck, jobless claims had dropped to 369,000, among the lowest weekly totals in recent years.
This week, the 23,000 fewer claims brought the weekly total to 393,000.
The four-week rolling average for the week rose by 7,500 to 405,250.
The unadjusted advance number of first-time unemployment benefits claims under state programs totaled 357,015 for the week, a decrease of 46,541 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.
There were 372,640 initial benefits claims in the comparable week in 2011, the department's Employment and Training Administration said.