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Applications for US unemployment benefits fall to 319,000, a sign of steady job market

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 26,000 last week to 319,000, the latest sign that the job market is slowly improving.

The drop follows two weeks of increases that reflected mostly temporary layoffs around the Easter holiday. The holiday can cause an uptick in layoffs of bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other school workers during spring break. Those earlier increases caused the four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, to rise 4,500 to 324,750.

With the impact of the holiday fading, applications are returning to pre-recession levels. The average for April was 312,000 , the fewest since October 2007. The recession officially began in December 2007.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and so the decline suggests that companies are cutting fewer jobs.

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Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
30 Y Fixed Graph 4.23% up 4.19%  
15 Y Fixed Graph 3.26% dw 3.27%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.62% dw 4.64%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.70% up 3.38%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 4.07% up 4.01%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.29% -- 4.29%  
$50K HELOC Graph 4.04% -- 4.04%  
$30K Loan Graph 5.09% up 5.08%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.52% -- 4.52%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.52% -- 4.52%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 2.93% -- 2.93%  
36 M Used Graph 3.46% dw 3.47%  
48 M New Graph 3.22% -- 3.22%  
48 M Used Graph 2.99% up 2.98%  
60 M New Graph 3.24% -- 3.24%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
6 month Graph 0.35% -- 0.35%  
1 yr Graph 0.69% up 0.68%  
5 yr Graph 1.39% -- 1.39%