By The Associated PressJOBLESS CLAIMS FALL: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the Labor Department said. That's the second-lowest level this year and a sign the job market may be improving LAYOFFS DOWN: Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The drop indicates companies are cutting fewer jobs. But employers also need to step up hiring to rapidly push down unemployment. FISCAL CLIFF: Fewer jobless claims suggests companies are not too worried about the "fiscal cliff," the package of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect early next year. But economists fear some employers may be delaying hiring.