Labor Market Strong as Jobless Claims Fall

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, indicating continued strength in the labor market despite a spring slowdown in the economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless benefits totaled 313,000 last week, a drop of 2,000 from the previous week.

That was a slightly better performance than economists had been expecting. They had forecast that jobless claims would rise by 2,000.

The government is scheduled to report new unemployment figures on Friday. Analysts are expecting the jobless rate will remain at 4.6 percent and they believe businesses created 160,000 new jobs in June. That would be a significant rebound after only 75,000 jobs had been created in May, the smallest gain in seven months.

The decline of 2,000 in jobless claims last week was the first drop in three weeks. The four-week moving average for claims edged up slightly to 308,500, compared with 306,000 in the previous week, but still remained at a level that analysts believe shows a healthy labor market.

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