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A third report showed the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose slightly last week to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 after two months of steady declines.

The four-week average of applications, which smooths week-to-week fluctuations, fell to its lowest level since April, the Labor Department said. The downward trend suggests companies are laying off fewer workers.

The economy grew at a rate of 2 percent in the July-September quarter. The modest growth is not nearly enough to lower the unemployment rate, which has been stuck near 9 percent for more than two years.

Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors, said it was possible that the weak consumer spending last month could be temporary, given that the trend in service spending had been more positive in recent months.

Naroff said spending should rebound to support economic growth of roughly 3.5 percent in the final three months of the year.

Many Americans could take home less next year if Congress doesn’t extend a Social Security tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits. Both expire at the end of this year.

The Social Security tax cut gave most Americans an extra $1,000 to $2,000 this year. If long-term unemployment benefits expire, roughly 6 million families could lose an average of $300 per week. For some, that’s their only source of income.

Both changes would leave Americans with an estimated $165 billion less to spend. The Federal Reserve expects the economy to grow only 2.7 percent next year, and economists say the expiration of the two programs could reduce growth by a full percentage point.