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The number of Americans filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, returning to a level that shows the labor market is making limited progress.

Jobless claims decreased by 23,000 to 369,000 in the week ended Oct. 20 from a revised 392,000 the prior period, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The drop comes after weeks of big swings in the figures caused by difficulties in adjusting the data for seasonal variations.

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