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WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose for the second straight week, a sign the hiring market is recovering at a slow and uneven pace.
Weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose by 6,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 402,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Applications had been below 400,000 for three straight weeks.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was mostly unchanged at slightly below 400,000.
The average fell to a seven-month low two weeks ago. Weekly applications had been declining for two months.
The recent increases aren't enough to suggest things are getting worse, economists said.
"The overall trend in claims is still friendly," said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets in a note to clients. "Don't be too overly concerned with the ups and downs of each week as this is a volatile report."
The report covered the Thanksgiving holiday week, when applications usually fall sharply. That can make seasonal adjustment of the figures difficult.
Applications would need to stay below 375,000 consistently to push down the unemployment rate significantly. They haven't been at that level since February.
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