The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the underlying trend pointed to a continuing strengthening of labor market conditions.
Other data on Thursday suggested a long-awaited acceleration in wage growth was imminent, with labor costs recording their largest increase in more than 5-1/2 years in the second quarter.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000 for the week ended July 26, the Labor Department said. Claims for the prior week were the lowest since May 2000.
“Unemployment claims have come down a lot as of late and suggest that labor market conditions continue to improve,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.
The four-week average of claims, considered a better gauge of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,500 to 297,250, the lowest level since April 2006.
Summer automobile plant shutdowns for retooling cause volatility in claims around this time of the year as automakers sometimes keep assembly lines running. This throws off a model the government uses to adjust the data for seasonal variations.
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