WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 320,000, the fewest since October 2007 - a sign of dwindling layoffs and steady if modest job growth.
The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average fell 4,000 to 332,000, the fewest since November 2007 and the fifth straight decline.
Applications, which reflect layoffs, have fallen 14 percent this year. That's a sign that companies are cutting fewer workers. But hiring is still sluggish, resulting in only modest net job gains.
Employers have added an average of 192,000 jobs a month this year. The unemployment rate declined to 7.4 percent in July, a 4½ year low. That's still well above the 5 percent to 6 percent range associated with a normal economy.
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