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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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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 and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

The late Sen. John McCain

I don't know Kyrsten Sinema, but I did know John McCain. Not at all intimately, to be sure, but just enough to say -- despite her pretensions and the fantasies of her flacks that she is the reincarnation of the war hero in a purple wig -- that Kyrsten Sinema is no John McCain.

Lately Sinema has advertised herself as a "maverick," by which she means that she flouts the positions and policies of her party's leadership, and is supposed to pair her with McCain, who sometimes strayed from the Republican party line. Her most notorious attempt at imitation occurred last year with a gesture on the Senate floor marking her vote against a minimum wage increase. Her coy mimicry of the admired war hero was synthetic, leaving an unpleasant odor in its wake. When McCain delivered his bold "thumbs down" on gutting Obamacare, he was protecting Arizona's working families – not betraying them.

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