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WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for jobless insurance tumbled last week by a surprisingly large amount to the lowest level in more than a year, according to government data Wednesday that gave fresh evidence the battered labor market is improving.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slid to a seasonally adjusted 466,000 in the week ended Nov. 21, from a revised 501,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said.

Seasonal adjustments turned a smaller-than-anticipated unadjusted rise in claims into a drop, a Labor Department economist said.

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