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Claims for U.S. jobless aid suggest modest hiring

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 21, 2013 at 8:26 a.m.

— The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped 20,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, though it remained at a level consistent with modest hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 8,000 to 360,750, the highest in six weeks.

A department spokesman said heavy snowstorms in the Northeast didn’t affect the total.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have trended downward recently. The four-week average has declined 7.5 percent since mid-November and fell to a five-year low three weeks ago.

Still, the increase puts applications back in the 360,000-to-390,000 range, where they have fluctuated since early last year.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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