WASHINGTON (AP) — Applications for jobless benefits dropped last week for the
third time in four weeks, a sign that employers are cutting fewer jobs.

The Labor Department says that initial claims for unemployment aid fell by
16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 453,000. Wall Street analysts had expected a
smaller drop.

The decline returns jobless claims to the same level they were two weeks ago.
Initial claims have fluctuated around 450,000 for most of this year.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure, dropped for the fifth
straight week to 458,000, the lowest level in two months.

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