Unemployment insurance applications in the United States have been flat at high levels for nearly five months last week, suggesting that labor market tightness may have begun to ease.

The first unemployment claim for the week ending June 18 fell from 2,000 to 229,000, according to Labor Department data on Thursday. The figures for the previous week have been revised slightly upward. The median estimate for the economist Bloomberg survey required 226,000 applications.

The unemployed claim that the four-week moving average, a measure of leveling some of the series’ volatility, has risen to 223,500, the highest since late January.

The labor market remains strong and the unemployment rate is low, but there are signs of softening. Several companies, including JPMorgan Chase and Coinbase Global, have announced layoffs in recent weeks. Meanwhile, concerns about a recession have risen after the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates the most since 1994, suggesting further tightening to curb inflation.

On an unadjusted basis, the initial claims were also slightly reduced. Applications decreased in Illinois and Florida, but increased in Michigan.

Continued billing for state interests was almost unchanged from 1.32 million for the week ending June 11.

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