The jobs market got a bit of good news Thursday, when the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 3,000 last week, compared to two weeks ago. However, the four-week average of those benefit claims remained at a three-month high of 377,750. Economists generally think that a number below 375,000 is necessary to lower the unemployment rate, which was 8.1 percent in August. The economic malaise, with many leaving the labor force altogether, has kept hiring slow, even as businesses post many openings.
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