Jobless Claims Drop from 7-year Hgh

WASHINGTON - The government says new applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week from a seven-year high, though claims remain at elevated levels due to the struggling economy.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits dropped 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 478,000, the same level that Wall Street economists expected.

The department said Hurricanes Ike and Gustav were responsible for adding about 20,000 claims on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, rose to 482,500, the highest since October 2001.