The Associated PressSANDY SPARKS LAYOFFS: U.S. unemployment benefit applications were elevated for a second straight week because Superstorm Sandy forced many people to seek temporary aid. First-time applications fell 41,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 410,000, the Labor Department said. MORE DISTORTIONS LIKELY: Two weeks ago, the storm drove applications up by 90,000 to 451,000, an 18-month high. Workers can claim benefits if their employers close and they aren't paid. Sandy could inflate applications for another week. JOB GAINS TO SLOW: The storm may slow job growth this month. That's because monthly job gains are calculated by subtracting layoffs and quits from overall hiring.