New claims for unemployment benefits sank to their lowest level in 21 months, the Labor Department reported recently.

The report showed a seasonally adjusted 13,000 to 355,000 for the work week ending Nov. 30, the lowest point since the week ending Feb. 17, 2001. This is the third week in a row that new claims for jobless benefits went down. Many were forecasting a rise in new claims.

The four-week moving average of new claims, which smooths out week-to-week fluctuations, dropped to 376,500 last week, the lowest level since the week ending March 3, 2001.