(Associated Press) – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week as layoffs remain at healthy levels despite elevated interest rates and inflation.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims for the week ending June 22 fell by 6,000 to 233,000 from 239,000 the previous week.

However, the total number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits rose for the eighth straight week, to 1.84 million, for the week of June 15.

The four-week average of claims, which softens some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 3,000 to 236,000.

Weekly unemployment claims are considered a proxy for layoffs.

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