WASHINGTON -- New claims for jobless benefits fell to 355,000 last week, with the figure affected by Superstorm Sandy.
The Labor Department on Thursday said 8,000 fewer people applied for first-time unemployment benefits in the week that ended Saturday. The drop was better than expected by analysts, who had estimated claims would fall to 363,000, down slightly from the previous week's revised figure of 365,000.
That less-volatile four-week moving average increased last week by 3,250 to 370,250, indicating modest job growth. Economists say weekly claims of about 350,000 indicate strong job growth.
But it's hard to read too much into last week's data because of Sandy.
The storm, which hit the mid-Atlantic and Northeast hard on Oct. 29 and 30, had an impact on jobless claims, the Labor Department said. But it's unclear whether it pushed them down or up.