The number of Americans filing initial jobless claims declined last week, coming in lower than analysts' estimates. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Dec. 31 decreased to 372,000 from 387,000 the previous week, which was revised upward 6,000. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 375,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 370,000 and 392,000. Most economists believe weekly jobless claims lower than 400,000 indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. Initial claims have been lower than this threshold for most of the past two months. The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, declined by 3,250 claims to 373,250 from the prior week's upwardly revised 376,500. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Dec. 24 slid to 2.8% from 2.9% the previous week, according to the Labor Department. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Dec. 17 fell to 7.22 million from 7.23 million the prior week. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw.