WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 1.9 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, the ninth straight decline since applications spiked in mid-March, a sign that the gradual reopening of businesses has slowed the loss of jobs. The diminishing pace suggests that the job market meltdown that was triggered by the coronavirus may have bottomed out as more companies call at least some of their former employees back to work. The total number of people who are now receiving jobless aid rose only slightly to 21.5 million, suggesting that rehiring is offsetting some of the ongoing layoffs.