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1.2 million seek jobless aid after $600 federal check ends (UPDATED)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs just as a critical $600 weekly federal jobless payment has expired.

The government's report did offer a smidgen of hopeful news: The number of jobless claims declined by 249,000 from the previous week, after rising for two straight weeks, and it was the lowest total since mid-March.

Still, the pace remains at alarmingly high levels: It is the 20th straight week that at least 1 million people have sought jobless aid.

Before the pandemic hit hard, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never surpassed 700,000 in a week.

By PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

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Associated Press

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