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Oct 5, 8:32 AM EDT

Jobless claims drop 12,000 to 260,000 last week



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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 last week to 260,000, as claims returned to more normal levels following the disruptions caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida and Georgia.

The Labor Department says that the less-volatile four-week average declined by 9,500 to 268,250. Overall, the number of Americans collecting unemployment checks has fallen 6.2 percent over the past year to 1.94 million.

In the aftermath of Irma, claims had risen sharply in Florida and Georgia two weeks ago but fell last week by 26.8 percent in Georgia and 20.4 percent in Florida. Claims were also down in Texas, dropping by 15.1 percent from the previous week as benefit applications returned to more normal levels in that state following Hurricane Harvey.

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