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Jobless claims drop

New applications for jobless benefits dropped by 12,000 to 350,000 for the week ending Dec. 22, the U.S. Department of Labor announced this morning.

Initial claims were slightly lower than expected, with the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists calling for 360,000 new unemployment insurance filings.

Because of the Christmas holiday, data for 19 states and territories were estimated due to government office closures that prevented a complete count, the Labor Department said.

The four-week moving average of initial claims – generally seen as a more accurate indicator – decreased 11,250 to 356,750, the lowest it has been since March 2008.

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