The Labor Department says the number of new jobless claims fell to a 452,000 last week, down 28,000 from the previous week, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
That's a better performance than the decline to 470,000 that economists had expected.
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report (12.24.09)
The four-week average for claims, which smooths out fluctuations, fell to 465,250 - the 16th straight weekly decline. That's viewed as an encouraging sign that the labor market is improving gradually.
Both the average and new claims numbers are at their lowest levels since September 2008, when the financial crisis hit with full force.