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By Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Initial jobless claims fell more than expected last week, underscoring an improved labor market.

First-time applications for unemployment benefits fell 6,000 from the previous week to 289,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists had expected claims for the week ended Dec. 13 to be 293,000, according to FactSet.

After a slow start to the year, the economy is now on pace to create the most new jobs since 1999. In November, the U.S. added 321,000 jobs, the largest gain in nearly three years.

Jobless claims now hover at 2000 levels.

The less-volatile four-week moving average for claims fell 750 to 298,750.

AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan

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