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Unemployed Americans

The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid fell again last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday.

The advance figure for seasonally-adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 366,000 in the week ending Feb. 2, down 5,000 from the previous week’s revised figure.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which helps smooth out week-to-week volatility, also fell to 350,500. A reading below 375, 000 generally indicates a sustained drop in the unemployment rate.

Claims are settling down at levels seen in the second half of 2012 after seesawing in the prior weeks and making it hard for the government to adjust the numbers for seasonal swings.

The advance figure for seasonally-adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Jan. 26 was 3.224 million, an increase of 8, 000 from the prior week.

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