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Reports: US Job Market Improves; Housing Sector Falters

FILE - A worker continues construction on a housing complex in Zelienople, Pennsylvania, March 28, 2014.

The U.S. job market is getting a little better, while the housing sector is faltering.

A Labor Department report published Thursday says the number of Americans signing up for unemployment assistance dropped by 3,000 to a nationwide total of 302,000 last week.

Experts say the data show layoffs are down, which is one reason the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1 percent.

The economy has had a net gain of more than 200,000 jobs per month for the past five months, which is the strongest performance in years.

But a separate Commerce Department report says U.S. home construction slowed in June.

Builders broke ground on 9.3 percent fewer homes and took out 4.2 percent fewer permits to build homes in the near future.