WASHINGTON — Initial jobless claims fell 7,000 to 444,000 for the week ending May 1, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

Continuing claims dropped to 4.594 million for the week ending April 24, the third straight weekly drop.

Economists expected 440,000 initial claims and 4.6 million continuing claims, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Initial claims for the week ending April 24 were revised to 451,000 from 448,000 initially reported.

Continuing claims for the week ending April 17 were revised to 4.653 million from 4.645 million.

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