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Paul Wiseman
Associated Press
The U.S. Capitol dome in Washington. The number of people applying for unemployment aid fell last week to its lowest level in nearly five decades, solid evidence that the job market is healthy and layoffs scarce.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in nearly half a century.

The Labor Department says claims for jobless aid fell by 5,000 last week to 192,000, lowest since September 1969. The four-week average, which is less volatile, dropped by 6,000 to 201,250, lowest since November 1969.

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Weekly claims have been at historically low levels – below 300,000 – for more than four years.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The low levels show that most American workers enjoy job security. The employment rate is 3.8%, the lowest in almost 50 years.