Published: Aug 18, 2011 2:27 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 18, 2011 2:41 PM EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose back above 400,000 last week. Still, the average number of applications over the past four weeks fell to its lowest level since mid-April. That suggests the job market may be improving.
 
The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 408,000, the highest level in four weeks. Applications have been above 400,000 for 18 of the past 19 weeks.
 
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped for the seventh straight week to 402,500.
 
Still, applications below 375,000 typically are consistent with healthy job growth. The last time they were that low was in late February.
 
Last week's figure was revised up to 399,000. That was the first time they had fallen below 400,000 since early April.