WASHINGTON — Initial claims for state unemployment decreased 21,000 to 301,000 in the Jan. 12 week, the Labor Department reported yesterday, the lowest level since the Sept. 12, 2007, week, when the level stood at 300,000.

Analysts expected initial jobless claims to rise 18,000 to 340,000 in the Jan. 12 mid-month week following declines in the previous two weeks.

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