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Washington (AFP) – New U.S. claims for unemployment insurance benefits were little-changed last week from the previous period, suggesting still only modest tightening in the jobs market so far this year.

The Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, totaled 312,000 in the week ending June 21, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week.

The four-week moving average was slightly higher at 314,250, but sharply down from the average of 345,250 a year ago, a decline that has paralleled the sharp decline in the unemployment rate to 6.3 percent.

However, the still-high level of dropouts from the labor market, in addition to those officially unemployed, underpins official views that there remains a lot of slack in the labor force.

AFP Photo/Mark Wilson

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