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WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in almost seven years, falling 32,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 300,000.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 316,250.

Fewer Americans sought benefits last week than at any point since the Great Recession began at the end of 2007. Applications are at their lowest level since May of that year.

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