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By Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

In a positive sign for the labor market, initial claims for jobless benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in 15 years, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Applications for unemployment benefits fell 43,000 to 265,000 for the week ended Jan. 24, according to the report. Analysts had expected filings to come in at 300,000, according to FactSet.

However, the sharp drop came during a shortened week that included Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Holidays can skew the weekly numbers, because people have less opportunity to apply because of the closure of state offices.

Even without a holiday, the week-to-week reports can be volatile.

The four-week moving average for jobless claims, which smooths some of that volatility, fell 8,250 to 298,500 — a level that indicates the job market is strong.

The U.S. added the most new jobs last year since 1999. And Federal Reserve officials said Wednesday that the economy was growing at a “solid pace,” an improvement from their assessment last month of “moderate” expansion.

AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan

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Chief Justice John Roberts

The House Select Committee hearings are swaying political independents and centrists to reject the power-grabbing tactics used by Donald Trump and his Republican enablers to overturn the 2020 presidential election, according to several polls and surveys of battleground state voters released on Thursday, June 30.

“Vast majorities of the American people are paying attention, and they are deeply concerned,” said Leslie Dach, co-chair of Defend Democracy Project, an advocacy group dedicated to the principle that voters determine the outcome of elections. “They believe that a crime has been committed. They want accountability in the courts and at the ballot box. And they hold not just President Trump responsible, but they hold his allies and Republicans responsible for what happened.”

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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