Initial claims for state unemployment benefits in the shortened July 4 week dropped to levels not seen since the beginning of the year, falling by 52,000 to 565,000, far below analysts’ expectations, according to data released by the U.S. Labor Department Thursday.

Seasonal factors had expected an increase of 12.7% or 71,000. The actual result was an increase of 3.1% or 17,612 initial claims to 577,506. No states were estimated.

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