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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week but remained high by historical standards. Applications for benefits declined 111,000 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 730,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It is the lowest figure since late November. Before the virus erupted in the United States last March, weekly applications for unemployment benefits had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to 779,000 last week, a historically high total that shows that a sizable number of people are still losing jobs to the viral pandemic. Last week’s total dropped from 812,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday, and is the lowest in two months. Before the virus erupted in the United States in March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession.