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US applications for jobless benefits fall as labor market continues to thrive

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week as layoffs remained historically low despite the Federal Reserve's efforts to loosen the labor market.

Jobless claims for the week ending May 18 fell by 8,000 to 215,000, down from 223,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The four-week average of claims, which softens some of the week-to-week volatility, rose a modest 1,750 to 219,750.

Weekly unemployment claims are considered a proxy for the number of U.S. layoffs in a given week and a sign of where the job market is headed. They have remained at historically low levels since millions of jobs were lost when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in the spring of 2020.

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In total, 1.79 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits during the week that ended May 11. That’s from up 8,000 from the previous week and 84,000 more than the same time one year ago.

Matt Ott, The Associated Press