Summary Box: Fewer sought US unemployment aid

BENEFIT APPLICATIONS DROP: The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week by the most in nearly a year. The Labor Department said that applications for unemployment aid dropped by 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000.

GOOD SIGN: The decline is a hopeful sign that hiring could pick up in the coming months. When applications fall below 375,000, it generally suggests that hiring will be strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

TEMPORARY WEAKNESS: Applications jumped in April after steadily declining since the fall. Economists said temporary layoffs stemming from the spring holidays might have inflated benefit applications.