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Weekly Jobless Claims Dip To Near Five-Year Low

There were 339,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 16,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

The drop brought claims down to around their lowest level since early 2008, when the latest recession was just getting started and before the downturn got its grip on the economy.

Last week's decline is a positive sign. The Associated Press reminds readers that jobless claims "are a proxy for layoffs" and that when they drop, "it signals that companies are cutting fewer jobs." But the wire service adds that layoffs are only "half of the equation. Businesses also need to be confident enough in the economic outlook to step up hiring."

Recent indicators seem to show that most businesses aren't yet willing to boost hiring. In March, the government estimates, just 88,000 jobs were added to private and public payrolls.

Still, Reuters says the news on jobless claims offers "reassurance [that] the bottom is not falling out of the labor market despite signs of slower growth."

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NPR

In An Alternate 19th Century London, Sins Are Marked With 'Smoke'

NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with Dan Vyleta about his novel, Smoke. It's set in an alternate 19th century London, where the morally corrupt are marked by a smoke that pours from their bodies.
WAMU 88.5

D.C.'s Public Schools Select New Lunch Providers

D.C. Public Schools is abandoning longtime school food provider Chartwells in the wake of allegations of poor food quality and fraud and moving forward with new vendors for 2016. But, questions remain about the selection process and future oversight.

WAMU 88.5

Creating A D.C. State Constitution

We explore the historic process of crafting a constitution for D.C. statehood nearly three decades after the last attempt, and find out how drafters are preparing for the June constitutional convention.

NPR

$81 Million Bangladesh Bank Heist Sparks Push For Stepped-Up Cybersecurity

The head of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication acknowledged at least two security breaches in addition to February's spectacular theft involving Bangladesh's central bank.

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