Initial unemployment claims dropped by 50,000 to a seasonally adjusted 352,000 for the week ending Jan. 14, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.
The previous week's upwardly revised figure was 402,000, the department said in a release.
At 379,000, the four-week moving average held to less than 400,000 for the 10th consecutive week.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in December, down from November's 8.6 percent on a gain of 200,000 jobs.
The advance number of actual unadjusted first-time joblessness claims under state programs was 521,613 in the week, a decrease of 124,606 from the previous week, Labor Department officials said.