The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell below 300,000 for the third time in five weeks, signaling once again that layoffs remain at a postrecession low amid an uptick in hiring in most major U.S. industries. Initial jobless claims fell by 14,000 to 298,000 in the week of Aug. 10 to Aug. 16, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to drop to 300,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, climbed by 4,750 to 300,750. Although that’s a four-week high, the monthly average is still near the lowest level in eight years.
The monthly average is less erratic than the weekly figure and offers a better look at underlying trends in the labor market. Also, the government said continuing claims decreased by 49,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.5 million in the week ended Aug. 9.
Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 312,000 from 311,000.