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Summary Box: More people seek unemployment aid

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APPLICATIONS RISE: More people sought unemployment benefits last week, the first increase in three weeks. The number of people seeking benefits rose to 424,000, far higher than the 375,000 that is consistent with sustained job growth.

WEAK JOB MARKET: The increase suggests the job market remains weak. Employers are reluctant to hire many new workers, while state and local governments and some other industries are still cutting jobs.

SLOWER HIRING: Businesses added more than 250,000 new jobs, on average, in the past three months. With applications rising, many economists forecast that number will drop in May.

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