WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level in eight years.<br />
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000. That's the lowest reading since February 2006, nearly two years before the Great Recession began.<br />
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined 7,250 to 302,000. Claims for jobless aid have been falling for the past three months.<br />
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When businesses hold onto staff, increased hiring and stronger economic growth often follows.<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.
When the U.S. military needs an assortment of mechanical tools and supplies, put together in kit-form, for specialized jobs being done around the world by our armed forces, it has repeatedly turned to Kipper Tools in Gainesville to meet the need.
At Georgia's iconic Stone Mountain where the Confederacy is enshrined in a giant bas-relief sculpture, the Ku Klux Klan once held notorious cross-burnings and rebel battle flags still wave prominently officials are considering what to do about those flags.
More than 20 people, including leaders in the African-American and Latino communities, gathered in a conference room at the Newtown Florist Club in Gainesville to discuss the city's at-large voting system.