US unemployment benefit applications fall to 343K

WASHINGTON

The Labor Department says the four-week average, a less volatile figure, dipped just 750 to 345,500. The average has fallen 9 percent in the past year.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits are a proxy for layoffs. Since March, they have fluctuated roughly between 340,000 and 360,000, a level consistent with steady hiring.

On Friday, the government will issue its June jobs report. Economists forecast that it will show employers added 165,000 jobs, slightly below the 175,000 gain in May. The unemployment rate likely ticked down to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent.

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