U.S. jobless applications at lowest since early ’08


WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 19,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, the fewest since January, 2008.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average slid 4,500 to 345,750. The July figures are typically volatile as the government adjusts for seasonal layoffs in the auto industry.

Still, the trend in weekly unemployment claims in recent months has been positive. Applications, which are a proxy for layoffs, have fallen more than 12 percent this year. That’s coincided with average job growth of 202,000 a month since January, up from an average of 180,000 in the previous six months.