Unemployment aid applications near a 4-year low

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking unemployment aid fell to nearly a four-year low last week, an encouraging sign of continued improvement in the job market.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 358,000. That's the second-lowest level since April 2008.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 366,250, the lowest since late April 2008.

The figures come a week after the government reported that employers added 243,000 net jobs last month. That pushed the unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent, the lowest in nearly three years.

When applications fall consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.


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