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The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid dropped to the lowest level in 14 years last week, the latest sign of a strengthening labor market that could help blunt worries about the impact of weak global growth. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000, the lowest level since April 2000. Given that the U.S. population has grown considerably since then, the proportion of the U.S. workforce applying for benefits is even smaller. Applications are a proxy for layoffs.

Analysts cheered the unexpectedly strong data. Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, described the report as “spectacular” and “astonishing.” 



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