Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 5,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 330,000 last week.
The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, dropped 5,750 to 344,000.
Lackluster domestic demand is preventing the labor market from generating stronger jobs growth that would decisively lower the unemployment rate.
Employers added 204,000 new jobs to the payrolls last month, but a 16-day government shutdown temporarily pushed the jobless rate up by a tenth of a percentage point to 7.3 percent, the Labor Department reported last week.
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid was unchanged at 2.87 million in the week ended Nov. 2.