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New unemployment benefits claims up 76 percent

New claims for Wisconsin's unemployment benefits are up 76 percent so far this year.

More than 417,000 initial applications were filed from Jan. 1t through last week.

That's 180,000 more than the same period a year ago.

About 2,400 new claims were filed last week alone in Milwaukee County.

In Rock County -- where the closing of the General Motors plant spurred the state's highest jobless rate -- 400 new claims were filed last week.

Unemployment in the Janesville area is now 13.5 percent. Just more than 3 million benefit claims have been continued statewide this year.

Four and one-half million claims were continued for all of last year.