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    US jobless claims break streak of declines with surprise increase

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – New applications for United States (US) unemployment benefits increased last week for the first time in seven weeks, according to government data on Thursday, breaking a streak of declines as COVID-19 vaccines have allowed businesses to re-open and rehire.

    Jobless claims rose to 412,000, seasonally adjusted, in the week ended June 12, which was 37,000 more than the previous week, the Labor Department said.

    And claims filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programme for freelance workers rose 46,722 to 118,025, not seasonally adjusted, the data showed.

    The declining trend in regular claims for the past six weeks was welcome news for the US labour market, after applications skyrocketed into the millions in March 2020 and remained at elevated levels throughout the pandemic.

    “Don’t freak out yet,” AnnElizabeth Konkel of job search website Indeed said on Twitter. “It’s one week of data. Regular initial claims are broadly trending downward when looking at the longer time series.” In fact the four-week moving average fell to 395,000 – the lowest since March 14, 2020, the report said.

    And through the week ended May 29, the total number of people receiving aid under all programmes fell to just over 14.8 million, a decline of nearly 560,000.

    In the same week last year, the figure was more than 30.1 million.

    A hiring sign in Vernon Hills, Illinois. PHOTO: AP
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