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Filings for unemployment aid at a 5-week high

- Associated Press - Thursday, May 31, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to a five-week high, evidence that the job market remains sluggish.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased for the first time in a month to 374,500.

Applications had leveled off at about 370,000 for four weeks. That decline suggested that hiring could pick up in May. A drop in applications to levels below 375,000 typically suggests that hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

Thursday's figures don't figure into the May employment report, to be released Friday. That report is based on figures gathered in the middle of the month.

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