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Drop in unemployment claims points to fewer layoffs

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WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the lowest level in three months as layoffs remain at pre-recession levels.

The Labor Department said today that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell slightly to a seasonally adjusted 336,500.

That average indicates companies are cutting few jobs and anticipate steady growth despite the winter slowdown.

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