) -- New applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, though claims data continues to hold stubbornly well above levels that would normally suggest jobs creation.

Initial jobless claims dropped by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000 for the week ending July 24, the Labor Department said Thursday. New claims were expected to remain steady at the prior week's prerevised 464,000 tally, according to consensus projections provided by



But in recent weeks new claims have churned decidedly higher and lower, with most reports attributing the moves to quirks in seasonal variations. Manufacturers have committed to fewer temporary layoffs of late than normal, according to the

Associated Press


The moving average for new claims over the past four weeks also went lower by 4,500 to 452,500, but the number of those continuing on jobless benefit roles climbed up to 4.565 million from 4.484 million.

--Written by Sung Moss in New York