(NEWSnet/AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week but the total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits rose to the highest level in more than two years.

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. That’s the most since November of 2021.

Applications for jobless benefits are trending higher in June after mostly staying below 220,000 this year. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4% in May, despite the fact that America’s employers added a strong 272,000 jobs last month. Job postings for April hit their lowest level since 2021.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that the four-week average of claims, which softens some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 3,000 to 236,000.

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