WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 to 330,000 in the January 19 week, a surprise decline that marks the lowest point in exactly 5 years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Forecasts in a MNI survey of economists had centered around a rebound in jobless claims to 364,000. The initially reported 335,000 claims level for the January 12 employment survey week was unrevised.

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