Applications for jobless aid fall to lowest in 50 years

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SAN FRANCISCO – APRIL 28: A pedestrian walks by a help wanted sign posted in the front window of a cafe April 28, 2010 in San Francisco, California.The Labor Department reported today that jobless rates have fallen or stayed level in 69 percent of the metropolitan areas in the U.S. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of people applying for unemployment aid fell last week to its lowest level in nearly five decades, solid evidence that the job market is healthy and layoffs scarce.
    
The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 196,000. That is the lowest since October 1969. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 207,000, the lowest since December 1969.
    
Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the ongoing decline – applications have tumbled for four straight weeks – signals that businesses are confident enough about future demand to hold onto their workers. That confidence is also spurring more hiring: Job gains rebounded last month after a sharp slowdown in February, suggesting the economy remains resilient in its 10th year of expansion.

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