WASHINGTON (AP) — Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 363,000 last week, a level consistent with modest hiring.
The report comes just before Friday's October jobs data, the last broad snapshot of the economy before the presidential election Tuesday. The still-weak job market has been a top issue for voters.
Labor Department officials said today the four-week average of applications for unemployment aid, a less volatile gauge, declined to 367,250. The average has been around that level for three months.
A department spokesman said Superstorm Sandy had no direct effect on the number of applicants. The report covered the week ending Oct. 27, before the storm reached shore.
But the devastation and economic disruptions that the storm caused this week will likely increase applications for unemployment aid in coming weeks. Workers who have been temporarily laid off because of the storm are expected to seek benefits.