- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, partly reversing a sharp jump in applications the previous week.

The Labor Department on Thursday said the number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 403,000 in the week ending April 16. The decline came after applications rose 31,000 a week earlier.

Applications near 375,000 are consistent with sustainable job growth. Applications peaked during the recession at 659,000.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the second straight week to 399,000. That’s about 10,000 higher than it was a month ago.

The average has fallen about 7 percent since late January, but applications have plateaued in recent weeks. Most economists expect applications to continue declining as the economy improves. Businesses have stepped up hiring in recent months.


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