Thursday's number exceeded expectations and brought the four-week moving average of claims to 349,000.
Earlier in the week, another indicator of job growth — the ADP estimate of private-sector job growth — also beat estimates. According to ADP, businesses added 238,000 jobs in December.
The Labor Department's December jobs report is due Friday morning. Economists expect it to show the U.S. gaining 200,000 jobs, according to Econoday.