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story.lead_photo.caption A hiring sign hangs in the window of a Taco Bell in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, July 15, 2021. Hiring in California slowed down in June as the unemployment rate held steady at 7.7% according to new numbers released on Friday, July 16, 2021 by the Employment Development Department. California gained 73,000 jobs in June, ending the state's streak of four consecutive months of adding 100,000 jobs or more. But experts say the state is still struggling from a workforce shortage as California has added back just over half of the 2.7 million jobs it lost at the start of the pandemic.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli))

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week from the lowest point of the pandemic, even as the job market appears to be rebounding on the strength of a reopened economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims increased last week to 419,000, the most in two months, from 368,000 the previous week. The number of first-time applications, which generally tracks layoffs, has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January.

Economists characterized last week's increase as most likely a blip caused by some one-time factors and partly a result of the inevitable bumpiness in the week-to-week data. Applications for jobless aid jumped last week, for example, in Michigan, where some auto plants have temporarily shut down production because of supply shortages.

"I do not worry that this reading signals a sudden weakening in labor demand," said Stephen Stanley, an economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. "In fact, I am quite confident that it does not."

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