Jobless claims fall for second straight week

WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits for the second week in a row after three straight weeks of increases.

Jobless claims fell by 23,000 to 238,000 last week, from 261,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported today.

The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, rose by nearly 8,000 to 255,000.

In total, 1.6 million Americans were collecting jobless aid the week that ended Jan. 22, a slight drop from the previous week.