The number of those lining up for first-time unemployment benefits was down for the fourth consecutive week, falling by 15,000 to settle at 427,000.
The more stable four-week moving average of initial claims, viewed as a better indicator of unemployment as it smoothes out weekly volatility, fell to 454,250, its lowest level in two months.
Nevertheless, the unemployment picture remains bleak ? the four-week moving average of those claiming another round of benefits increased to 3.73 million, its highest level since 1983, for the work week ending November 10, the latest week for which data are available.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the data was released a day earlier than usual.