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Applications for US jobless benefits fell to a low 216,000

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs declined and hiring is likely strong.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000, a very low level by historical standards. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to 235,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, since people cannot claim benefits unless they lose a job through no fault of their own. Businesses are hiring at healthy levels and posted the most open jobs in nearly two decades in December. With demand for workers strong, companies are holding onto their staffs.

Other economic reports have suggested growth may be slowing this year. Manufacturing output and retail sales have both fallen in the past two months. Still, consumer optimism has bounced back, according to some measures, after falling sharply in the wake of the 35-day partial government shutdown. That could revive spending going forward.

The economy expanded at a 3.8 percent annual rate last summer and fall. But analysts forecast growth weakened in the final three months of last year, to roughly 2 percent to 2.5 percent. The report on fourth-quarter growth was delayed by the government shutdown and is scheduled to be released next week.

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Growth has likely slowed further in the first three months of this year, economists expect, with some projecting it to be as slow as 1.5 percent to 2 percent at an annual rate.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
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