Leaflets lie on a table at a booth at a military veterans' job fair in Carson, California, in this file photo taken October 3, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits fell last week and layoffs in December were the smallest in 15-1/2 years, pointing to a firmer labor market even as economic growth appears to have slowed sharply in the fourth quarter.Claims were volatile in December, reflecting the challenges of adjusting the data around holidays. Last week was the 44th straight week that claims held below the 300,000 mark, which is associated with a healthy labor market.The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it strips out week-to-week volatility, slipped 1,250 to 275,750 last week.
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