New applications for US unemployment benefits fell to 360,000 last week, continuing its decline after a slight increase the previous week, according to government data released Thursday. The 26,000 drop in the week ending July 10, took total jobless claims to the lowest level since March 14, 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Labor Department reported. Another 96,362 new applications, not seasonally adjusted, were filed last week under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for freelance workers not normally eligible for aid, the report said. As pandemic restrictions have been lifted amid widespread access to Covid-19 vaccines, demand for unemployment benefits has been trending downward. But the data showed that as of June 26, 13.8 million people were still receiving some form of aid, including under special pandemic programs. Nearly two dozen US states have announced early termination of extra federal government payments, saying the funds are keeping workers on the sidelines as businesses struggle to fill open positions. But some of those face legal challenges. “The early end to emergency benefits by some states is starting to become apparent in the data,” said Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics, who pointed to declines in Georgia in Texas in the week ended June 26.