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Aug 4, 2011 8:45 AM by Kate Richards

Unemployment applications down

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week, a sign the job market may be improving slowly.

The Labor Department says that applications for unemployment benefits edged down 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 400,000. That's the lowest level in four months. The previous week's figure was revised upward from 398,000 to 401,000.

The four-week average, a less volatile figure, dropped for the fifth straight week to 407,750.

That suggests there is a downward trend in applications.

Applications have been at or above 400,000 for 17 weeks. They fell in February to 375,000, a level that signals healthy job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for two months, but applications then surged to an eight-month high of 478,000 in April and have declined slowly since then.

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