The Labor Department has reported that for the week ending Nov. 15, new claims for jobless benefits declined by a seasonally adjusted 15,000 to 355,000. For seven straight weeks claims have been below the 400,000 mark.

The more stable four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week fluctuations, fell by 9,000 to 367,250 last week, the best showing since the week ending Feb. 24, 2001. The unemployment rate dipped to 6 percent in October.