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More People Sought Unemployment Benefits

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits surged last week to the highest level in eight months, a sign the job market may be weakening.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for unemployment benefits surged last week to the highest level in eight months, a sign the job market may be weakening.

The Labor Department says applications rose by 43,000 to 474,000 in the week ended April 30, the third increase in four weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the fourth straight week to 431,250.

A department spokesman blamed much of the increase on an unexpected spike in applications from New York, where more school systems than usual closed for spring break last week. That resulted in 25,000 layoffs. The department didn't anticipate the closures when making seasonal adjustments, the spokesman said.

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