WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in seven weeks, although applications remain elevated.
The Labor Department says applications for benefits dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 418,000.
Applications have topped 400,000 for 13 weeks, evidence the job market has weakened since the beginning of the year. Applications had fallen in February to 375,000, a level that signals sustainable job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for seven of the next nine weeks. But then applications surged to an eight-month high of 478,000 in April and have shown only modest improvement since.
The department says that about 2,500 applications in Minnesota were from state employees temporarily laid off due to a state government shutdown.