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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to a sustained improvement in labor market conditions. The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 14,000, to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 for the week ended August 16th. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data. The jobless claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 49,000 to 2.50 million in the week ended August 9th.

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