WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a sign that employers are laying off very fewer workers.
The Labor Department's first-time application figures were largely free of the distortions that had elevated the data earlier in the month.
The 16-day partial government shutdown and backlogs in California due to computer upgrades still inflated the four-week average.
The average rose 8,000 to 356,250, the highest since April.
Still, those distortions are no longer affecting the weekly data, a government spokesman said. The shutdown ended Oct. 16.
Applications are now close to the pre-recession levels that were reached in August, before California's computer problems distorted the data.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.