New jobless claims inch up in latest week

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits edged up slightly last week but remained at a level that indicated a healthy labor market.

The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications rose by 2,000 to 315,000. The four-week average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, was essentially unchanged at 315,000.

The average has fallen by 9 percent since the beginning of this year. Unemployment benefit applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the declines indicate that companies are cutting fewer jobs.

A separate report Friday showed that the economy created 288,000 jobs in June, the fifth straight month of strong job creation above 200,000 per month. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent, the lowest rate since September 2008.

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