Unemployment benefit applications slide in U.S.


WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a sign employers are laying off very few.

The Labor Department said Thursday the four-week average rose 8,000 to 356,250, the highest since April. The 16-day partial government shutdown and backlogs in California were blamed.

Still, a government spokesman said those unusual factors did not affect last week’s first-time applications.