US weekly requests for jobless aid down 5,000, to 240,000

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, keeping the number of people seeking benefits close to historic lows.

The Labor Department says 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.

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