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Unemployment data give mixed signals

New claims for state unemployment benefits soared by 52,000, reaching a total of 517,000 during the final week of January, the largest jump since mid-November.

The Labor Department report appears to confirm many economists' concern that the sharp drop in the January unemployment rate was exaggerated because of adjusting the data seasonally. But coupled with the bad news was a report for the previous week that shows total recipients of jobless benefits down to 3.8 million, the lowest number in 10 months.

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