Initial claims for state unemployment showed a surprising 94,000 drop during Christmas week to 492,000, far below expectations, in a set of numbers a Labor Department analyst said he at first thought was “unbelievable.”

Forecasts had centered on a drop of just 7,000 to 579,000 in a week the analyst said generally shows the second highest jump in unadjusted claims of the year. The week after Thanksgiving is usually the top gainer. The last time initial claims had a decline as large as 94,000 was in the Aug. 1, 1992, week.

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