updated 12/13/2007 10:23:47 AM ET 2007-12-13T15:23:47

The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week by 7,000 to 333,000, the lowest level since the middle of November.

Economists had been expecting no change.

The less volatile four-week moving average declined by 2,000 to nearly 339,000.

Last week, the government said the nation’s unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent.

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