WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits were much lower than forecast in the September 28 week, up by a mere 1,000 to 308,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 315,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previously reported 305,000 level in the September 21 week. The initial claims level in that week was revised slightly higher to 307,000.

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