WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 to 359,000 in the September 22 week, the lowest level in nearly two months, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by MNI was for 378,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the initially reported 382,000 level in the September 15 week. That week's claims level was revised up by 3,000 to 385,000.

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