Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, keeping the number of people seeking benefits close to historic lows.
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The Labor Department says that weekly unemployment applications fell by 5,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 240,000. The less volatile four-week average declined 2,500 to 241,750.
Applications closely reflect layoffs. Jobless claims have come in below 300,000 for 126 weeks in a row. That's the longest such stretch since 1970, when the U.S. population was much smaller.
Employers have hired this year at a slower pace as the unemployment rate has fallen to a healthy 4.4 percent. Economists expect the government's report for July, to be issued Friday, to show that U.S. employers added 180,000 jobs.