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Published: Friday, 3/9/2012

Jobless applications rise a little, but outlook good


WASHINGTON — Slightly more people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week. But the overall level stayed low enough to suggest the job market is strengthening.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications increased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000.

The four-week average remained roughly 355,000. That’s basically unchanged from last week’s level.

Applications have fallen 14 percent since October. When applications fall below 375,000, that signals hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

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