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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to nearly the lowest level in seven years, a sign hiring may be picking up. The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 300,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 311,500, the fewest since August, 2007. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the drop suggests companies are cutting fewer jobs. When employers are confident enough to keep staff, they may also step up hiring.

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