New: Jobless Claims Post Sharp Decline

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Washington (AP) The number of newly laid off workers seeking unemployment benefits dropped much more than expected last week.

The Labor Department reports that applications for unemployment benefits fell to 365,000, a decline of 18,000 from the previous week. Economists has been looking for a much smaller decrease of around 5,000.

Weekly jobless claims have been exceptionally volatile in recent weeks because of strike-related layoffs in the auto industry and an unusually early Easter which has played havoc with the government's seasonal adjustment measurements.