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Applications for US jobless aid fall to 393,000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 last week. It was the second straight drop after Superstorm Sandy had driven applications much higher earlier this month.

A Labor Department analyst said the storm had little effect on the data. Applications spiked to 451,000 three weeks ago after Sandy battered the East Coast, closing businesses in the Northeast and cutting off power to 8 million homes in 10 states.

People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces are forced to close and they aren't paid.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 405,250. That figure has been elevated by the storm. Before Sandy, applications fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 this year.

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