A “now hiring” sign is seen in a restaurant window in Miami, Florida.
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The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that could further assuage concerns about the economy's health.Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 for the week ended Jan. 5 .The Labor Department said only claims for Puerto Rico were estimated last week.Claims were boosted in the week ending Dec. 29 as workers furloughed because of a partial shutdown of the U.S. government applied for benefits.Claims by federal workers are reported separately and with a one-week lag.Furloughed federal government workers can submit claims for unemployment benefits, but payment would depend on whether Congress decides to pay their salaries retroactively.Thursday's claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 28,000 to 1.72 million for the week ended Dec. 29 .
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