Unexpected Decline for U.S. Jobless Claims

Those Americans filing for unemployment assistance were fewer in number than expected last week, suggesting the labour market remains strong even as the economy is slowing.

Information released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 209,000 for the week ended Aug. 3. Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Last week’s drop in claims pushed them to the lower end of their 193,000-244,000 range for this year. Economists had forecast claims would be unchanged at 215,000 in the latest week.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, edged up 250 to 212,250 last week.