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In this Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 photo, job seekers check out companies offering more than 2,000 job opportunities at a job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week after reaching the lowest level in 5 ½ years. But the broader trend suggests companies are laying off fewer workers and could step up hiring in the months ahead.

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