March 3, 2011 8:40 AM, EST
New Jobless Claims Take Biggest Drop in Three Years

Initial jobless claims fell to the lowest level in almost three years last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The 20,000 decline to 368,000 left claims at their lowest level since May 2008. Economists had forecast claims would rise to 395,000, Bloomberg reported.

The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, fell to 388,500, the lowest since July, from 401,250 the previous week.

Continuing claims for the previous week ended Feb. 19 fell by 59,000 from a week earlier, to 3.77 million.