Initial unemployment claims edged down to 1.3 million in the latest week and workers receiving benefits eased slightly to 18.1 million, signs the labor market continues to heal.

The number of new applications for jobless benefits fell by a seasonally adjusted 99,000 for the week ended July 4, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That extends a trend of gradual declines from a peak of 6.9 million in mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic and mandated business closures shut down swaths of the U.S. economy. Still, last week’s level was well above the highest week on record before this year, which was 695,000 in 1982.

The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell for the week ended June 27 to the lowest level since mid-April. Those so-called continuing claims are reported with a week lag. The modest easing of the number of unemployment rolls suggests new layoffs are being offset by hiring and recalling of workers.

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