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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week but stayed close to a seven-year low and pointed to ongoing healing in the labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 28,000 to 326,000 for the week ended May 17, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week saw the lowest reading since May 2007 and brought claims back to a level last seen before the deep 2007-09 recession. Economists say the cumulative reduction in new claims could point to stronger hiring, although one metric in Thursday’s report cast a shadow over the upcoming monthly employment report for May.

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