WASHINGTON - Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits plunged by 35,000 to 353,000 in the July 21 week, erasing the previous week's increase as seasonal adjustment volatility continued, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by MNI was for 380,000, a decline of 6,000 from the initially reported 386,000 level in the July 14 employment survey week. That week's claims level was revised up slightly to 388,000.

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