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July 25, 2003
New Claims for Jobless Benefits Fall
The number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims fell by a seasonally adjusted 29,000 to 386,000 last week, the lowest level of new claims in five months, the Department of Labor announced.

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Economists associate a level above 400,000 with a weak jobs market, so the employment report offered some positive news that the economy is recovering, the Associated Press reports. The number of new applications for jobless benefits had remained above the 400,000 mark since February 8.

Meanwhile, the government's report also said the four-week average of jobless claims, which smoothes out fluctuations, dropped by 5,500 last week to 419,250.

Economists tell the news agency that while the news on new jobless claims is encouraging because it may signify layoffs are beginning to ebb, it does not indicate that companies will be willing to ramp up hiring.

The Labor Department also noted that July is a volatile month in terms of unemployment claims because of temporary plant closings.

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