The U.S. Labor Department Wednesday said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped by 29,000 in the week, reaching pre-Hurricane Sandy levels. There were 343,000 first-time claims in the week, the lowest number since early October and close to a multiyear low. The four-week rolling average for the week was 381,500, a decrease of 27,000 from the previous week. The unadjusted advance number of first-time unemployment benefits claims under state programs totaled 428,814 for the week, a decrease of 72,117 from the previous week, the Labor Department said. There were 435,863 initial benefits claims in the comparable week in 2011, the department\'s Employment and Training Administration said.