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U.S. Weekly Jobless Edge Down To 231,000

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A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended June 25th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 231,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 233,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 228,000 from the 229,000 originally reported for the previous month.

"The level of claims is still relatively low, but we don't expect claims to fall much below the levels of the last few weeks," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics. "While labor markets remain very tight, reports of layoffs are increasing."

She added, "Looking ahead, we expect job growth to continue but to slow markedly as the Fed's aggressive rate hike campaign takes a toll on the economy."

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said less volatile four-week moving average rose to 231,750, an increase of 7,250 from the previous week's revised average of 224,500.

The report also showed continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, dipped by 3,000 to 1.328 million in the week ended June 18th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still climbed to 1,319,500, an increase of 5,500 from the previous week's revised average of 1,314,000.

"Like initial claims, we think continued claims have probably found a floor and are unlikely to fall much going forward," said Vanden Houten. "We don't foresee a significant rise in continued claims at this stage however, based on our outlook for job growth and for more workers to return to the labor market."

Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of June.

Economists currently expected employment to increase by 250,000 jobs in June after jumping by 390,000 jobs in May, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.6 percent.

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