Jobless Claims Drop, Suggesting Improved Hiring Outlook

By Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON -- The number of people seeking unemployment aid last week fell to its lowest level since mid-May, suggesting layoffs are easing and hiring could pick up.

The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 374,000, the fewest since the week of May 19. The four-week average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, dropped by 1,500 to 385,750.