The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits rose slightly at the end of June but remained near the lowest level in years.
Initial jobless claims in the period running from June 25 to July 1 increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 248,000, the government said Thursday. Initial claims count people who apply for benefits after losing their jobs.
New applications for benefits have been under 300,000 for 122 straight weeks, the longest run since the early 1970s.
The average of new claims over the past month, which gives a more accurate picture of layoff trends, was even lower. They rose by a scant 750 to 243,000.
The U.S. has added millions of jobs during a recovery that’s beginning its ninth year, tugging the unemployment rate down to a 16-year low of 4.3%. Layoffs are also running at the lowest level in nearly half a century and they show no sign of rising amid steady economic growth and increasing reports of labor shortages.
The number of people already collecting unemployment checks, known as continuing claims, totaled fewer than 2 million for the 12th straight week. The last time the size of unemployment rolls were consistently under 2 million was in 1973.
Economists polled MarketWatch predict the economy added 179,000 new jobs in June, whose numbers will be reported Friday morning.
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