By MATT OTT
AP Business Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits for the third straight week. Jobless claims fell by 16,000 to 223,000 last week, from 239,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, fell slightly after rising for five straight weeks as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spread, disrupting business in many parts of the U.S. Last week, the Labor Department reported a surprising burst of hiring in January, with employers adding 467,000 jobs.