The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose slightly in the first week of June but remained near a 15-year low amid a sharp upsurge in hiring over the past few years. Initial jobless claims edged up by 2,000 to 279,000 in the seven days from May 31 to June 6, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 275,000. Initial claims have been under the key 300,000 mark for 14 weeks in a row, a feat last accomplished 15 years ago. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 3,750 to 278,750, the Labor Department said. The four-week average smooths out sharp fluctuations in the more volatile weekly report and is seen as a more accurate predictor of labor-market trends. Continuing jobless claims, reflecting people who already collect unemployment checks, climbed 61,000 to 2.27 million.
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