U.S. jobless claims fall to 350,000 vs. 343,000 expected
WASHINGTON—The number of U.S. workers applying for jobless benefits fell slightly last week, another indication of the labor market’s sustained improvement.
First-time benefit claims, a proxy for layoffs, decreased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 331,000 in the week ended Aug. 24, the Labor Department said Thursday. The figure matched economists’ expectations. The prior week’s level was revised up by 1,000 to 337,000.
Claims have remained near a five-year low since late July, suggesting that businesses are at least confident enough in the economy to retain existing staff. At the same time, hiring has continued at a steady, if slow, pace.
The combination helped push down the unemployment rate to 7.4% last month, the lowest level since late 2008.
Recent data signal “no let-up from the recent pace in employment growth,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “If anything, claims are suggesting further acceleration.”