The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to a seasonally adjusted 410,000, though the figure was elevated for the second straight week by Superstorm Sandy.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that applications dropped by 41,000 from the previous week, when the storm drove applications to their highest level in 18 months. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 9,500 to 396,250. Sandy could distort the data for another week, department officials say. The storm caused nearly 44,000 people in New York and 31,000 in New Jersey to seek benefits two weeks ago.