The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting that a sharp slowdown in job growth last month was probably an aberration.
While other data on Thursday showed housing starts declined in August, upward revisions for groundbreaking in July offered hope that the housing market was continuing to gradually improve.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000 for the week ended Sept. 13, the lowest level since July, the Labor Department said.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to only 305,000 last week. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, slipped 4,750 to 299,500.
The data came a day after the Federal Reserve renewed a pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a “considerable time,” while hinting at a faster pace of rate hikes than the U.S. central bank was signaling a few months ago.