The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose in late June to a five-week high, up 10,000 to 281,000 in the seven days stretching from June 21 to June 27. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 275,000. Still, initial claims have stayed below the key 300,000 mark for 17 straight weeks, reflecting a record low level of layoffs and a steady increase in new hiring in a gradually improving U.S. labor market. The government also said the U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in June. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 1,000 to 274,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. 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 climbed 15,000 to 2.26 million in the week ended June 20. These claims reflect people already receiving unemployment checks.
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