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Mr. Obama is in New York for four glitzy fundraisers for his presidential campaign. He arrived after making a high-profile appearance at Walt Disney World, where he announced initiatives aimed at boosting tourism.


Unemployment claims are fewest since 2008

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits plummeted last week to 352,000, the fewest since April 2008. The decline added to evidence that the job market is strengthening.

Applications fell 50,000, the biggest drop in the seasonally adjusted figure in more than six years, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average, which smoothes out fluctuations, dropped to 379,000. That’s the second-lowest such figure in more than three years.

A department spokesman cautioned that volatility at this time of year is common. Applications had jumped two weeks ago, largely because companies laid off thousands of temporary workers hired for the holidays.

Still, when weekly applications fall consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to push down the unemployment rate.

“This continues a clear downshift in claims,” said Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics.

Mr. Shepherdson suggested that stronger hiring should follow.

From wire dispatches and staff reports