Jobless claims fell more sharply than economists expected last week as new filings for unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 to 454,000, the Labor Department said.

The level of initial claims recorded during the seven-day period ending July 3 is the lowest in over a month. Continuing claims fell 224,000 to 4.413 million, their lowest level since November 2008, according to the report, which was released Thursday.

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