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The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits declined for the third straight week.
Jobless claims fell by 16,000 to 223,000 last week, from 239,000 the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.
The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, declined by 2,000 to 253,250 after rising for five straight weeks as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spread, disrupting business in many parts of the United States.
Last week, the Labor Department reported a surprising burst of hiring in January, with employers adding 467,000 jobs.
It also revised upward its estimate for job gains in November and December by a combined 709,000.
The unemployment rate edged up to a still-low 4 percent, from 3.9 percent, as more people began looking for work, but not all of them securing jobs right away.
In total, 1.6 million Americans were collecting jobless aid the week that ended Jan. 29, essentially flat from the previous week.
In Iowa, however, continued claims rose for the second week, at the same time as initial claims dropped.
Continued claims statewide for the week ended Fed. 5 ticked up to 24,147, from 23,740 the previous week. First-time applications fell to 2,209, from 2,557.
In Linn County, continued claims were recorded at 1,648 — a slight change from 1,687 the week before. Initial claims stood at 186, down from 221.
Johnson County reported 604 continued claims, up from 572. Initial applications there were at 71. That is down from 96 the week ended Jan. 29.
The Gazette contributed Iowa figures to this report.