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US Layoffs Drop

The number of people signing up for unemployment assistance dropped by 23,000 last week across the United States.

Thursday's report from the Labor Department says there were 340,000 first-time applications nationwide.

Many economists say that level is consistent with an improving job market.

The U.S. central bank chief said Wednesday that the job market is still weak. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told members of Congress that the bank will continue its programs to stimulate the economy, at least for a while.

The most recent data shows the U.S. unemployment rate at 7.5 percent, which is the lowest in four years, but higher than usual for the United States.

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