WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose more than expected in the June 15 employment survey week, advancing by 18,000 to 354,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 340,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previously reported 334,000 level in June 8 week. The initial claims level in that week was revised up slightly to 336,000.

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