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Washington (AFP) — New claims for U.S. unemployment insurance benefits fell more than expected last week, another sign of tightening in the jobs market, official data released Thursday showed.

Initial jobless claims fell to 298,000 in the week ending August 16 from the revised 312,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.

The decline in new claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, was much larger than analysts expected. The average estimate was for a 308,000 level.

The weekly claims numbers are volatile, but have been pointing to an improvement in the labor market, economists say.

“The downward trend continues, and is consistent with strong payroll numbers,” said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The four-week moving average was 300,750, an increase of 4,750 from the previous week. A year ago the average was 333,750.

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, keeping up a solid 200,000-plus monthly streak since February. The unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent from 7.3 percent a year ago.

“This time last year, claims were trending at about 335,000, so the improvement has been substantial, and enough on its own to suggest that payroll growth should be able to sustain a pace close to 250,000 per month,” Shepherdson said.

AFP Photo/Scott Olson

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Danziger Draws

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.

Cruel as this may sound, I'm having a hard time cringing at the internet trolls now going after noisy right-wingers who propagandized against the coronavirus vaccine and then succumbed to the deadly disease.

One was Nick Bledsoe, a car mechanic in Opelika, Alabama. Bledsoe achieved minor celebrity opposing public efforts to contain COVID-19. He petitioned against school mask mandates and turned refusal to get shots into a political statement, negatively linking them to President Joe Biden. Bledsoe died of COVID at age 41, leaving a wife and four children.

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