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Wages and benefits for U.S. workers rose a moderate 0.9 percent in the April-June quarter this year, down slightly from the previous quarter's increase, as price pressures for benefits like health insurance eased significantly.

The Labor Department reported today that the 0.9 percent rise in wages and benefits in the second quarter followed a 1.1 percent increase in the January-March quarter. It was the smallest quarterly increase since a 0.8 percent rise in the final quarter of last year.

In a second report, the department said that new claims for unemployment benefits edged up slightly last week, climbing to 345,000, still at a level that indicates the labor market is continuing to improve after three years in which the economy failed to create new jobs.

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