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WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose back above 400,000 last week. Still, the four-week average, a more reliable gauge of the job market, fell to the lowest level since mid-April.
The report suggests that the economy is creating jobs but not nearly enough to lower the high unemployment rate.
Weekly applications rose 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 408,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the highest level in four weeks. Applications have been above 400,000 for 18 of the past 19 weeks.
The four-week average dropped for the seventh straight week to 402,500.
Still, applications typically must fall below 375,000 to signal healthy job growth. The last time they were that low was in late February.
Two weeks ago, applications dropped to 399,000. That was the first time they had fallen below 400,000 since early April.
Separately, the Labor Department said consumers paid more for gas, food and clothes last month, pushing prices up by the most since the spring.
The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in July, following a drop of 0.2 percent in June. Gas prices accounted for much of the swing. The core index, which excludes volatile food and energy, rose 0.2 percent.
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