WASHINGTON (AP) — More people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the first increase in three weeks. Still, the broader trend points to a slowly healing jobs market.

The government says applications for unemployment benefits rose 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 412,000 for the week ended April 9. That left applications at their highest point since mid-February.

Applications near 375,000 are consistent with a sustained increase in hiring. Applications peaked during the recession at 659,000.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 395,750. However, applications have dropped about 6 percent over the past two months. At the same time, businesses have stepped up hiring.

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