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WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits dropped slightly last week to its lowest level in two months, a sign that employers are cutting fewer jobs.
The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for jobless benefits fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 450,000, the third decline in four weeks. Many economists had expected an increase.
Claims have fallen by 11 percent in the past month, after jumping to 504,000 in the week ending Aug. 14. The decline indicates layoffs are easing, even as the pace of economic growth has slowed since earlier this year.
The four-week average of new claims, which reduces volatility, fell sharply to 464,750, down 13,500 from the previous week.
The report follows other data earlier this week that shows the economy is still growing, but at a slow pace. Reports on retail sales and industrial production both showed modest gains.
Still, initial claims are still above levels that would signal widespread hiring. In a healthy economy, claims usually fall below 400,000.
In a separate report, the Labor Department said wholesale prices climbed in August for the second straight month, as the cost of energy rose enough to offset a decline in food costs.
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