WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell by 30,000 to 339,000 in the October 6 week, the lowest level seen since February 16, 2008 when claims were also 339,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by MNI was for 365,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the initially reported 367,000 level in the September 29 week. That week's claims level was revised up by 2,000 to 369,000.

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