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Jobless claims slip, but remain at elevated pandemic levels

The number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits fell less than expected last week and remains elevated as the economy continues to battle through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Data released Thursday by the Labor Department showed 411,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended June 19, above the 380,000 that analysts surveyed by Refintiv had expected. The prior week’s reading was revised higher by 6,000 to 418,000. 

Continuing claims for the week ended June 12, meanwhile, fell by more than 140,000 to 3.39 million. Analysts surveyed by Refintiv were anticipating a decline to 3.47 million. 

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The bigger-than-expected decline in continuing claims comes as at least 26 states have already ended or announced plans to end the additional $300 per week in supplemental benefits in an attempt to lure laborers back to work. The U.S. economy has 7.6 million fewer workers than before the pandemic. 

In other economic data, the U.S. economy in the first quarter grew at an unrevised 6.4% annual rate, according to a third estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The reading was in line with what analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting.