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US Jobless Benefit Claims Hit 7-Year Low

FILE - Richard Mattos, 59, looks for jobs at state-run employment center in Salem, Oregon.
The number of American workers seeking unemployment benefits has fallen to a seven-year low, a new signal that the U.S. labor market is improving.

The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that 297,000 unemployed workers made initial claims for government aid last week, down 24,000 from the week before and the lowest point since May, 2007.

U.S. businesses have been laying off fewer workers and hiring has picked up, with the world's largest economy adding 288,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate falling to 6.3 percent.

In a separate report, the government said consumer prices increased three-tenths of a percent in April, the most in almost a year. Analysts said it was a sign that inflation could pick up in the coming months as the pace of the U.S. economy improves from a weak first quarter, when economic expansion was slowed in part by an unusually cold and snowy winter.