Fewer People Applied for Jobless Benefits

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For a second consecutive week, the number of people filing claims for unemployment dropped sharply.

According to the Labor Department, benefit applications dropped to 409,000 -- 29,000 less than the week prior.

"It is about as expected," Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities, told Reuters.

"There has been a lot of volatility in recent weeks and it looks like the prior week's number was bolstered by all the damage from the tornadoes in Alabama and also to some of the layoffs due to parts shortages at the auto manufacturers," Vitner explained.

"When you take into account those temporary glitches, the trend in jobless claims looks a little bit better, although 409,000 weekly jobless claims is still pretty high," he added.

Economists said the decline in applications could point to a slowly recovering job market.

Businesses have been working to create more jobs over the last three months, adding 250,000 jobs per month - the fastest hiring spree in five years.

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