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US weekly jobless claims total 234,000 vs 254,000 estimate

A pedestrian walk by a now hiring sign posted in the window of a business in San Rafael, Calif.
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A pedestrian walk by a now hiring sign posted in the window of a business in San Rafael, Calif.

The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week back to near the lowest levels in decades.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Jan. 14, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 254,000 in the latest week.

The number of claims for the previous week was revised up by 2,000 to 249,000.