WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week.<br />
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid dipped 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000.<br />
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 3,000 to 309,000, the level since June 2007, about five months before the start of the Great Recession.<br />
Applications are a proxy for layoffs, a sign that they expect economic growth to continue. When businesses are confident enough to keep staff, they are also likely to hire more people.<br />
Hiring is at its healthiest clip since the late 1990s and the 6.1 percent unemployment rate is at a 5 1/2-year low. Employers added 288,000 jobs in June, the fifth straight month of job gains above 200,000.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
Police have identified a man shot near the Underground Atlanta shopping and entertainment complex in the city's downtown area.
Authorities say the suspected gunman ran to Underground Atlanta after firing shots at another man near Peachtree Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Police later identified the victim as at 24-year-old Khiry Clemons.