A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday unexpectedly showed a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended July 8th.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 237,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 249,000.
The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 250,000 from the 248,000 originally reported for the previous week.
“Initial jobless claims fell last week, although we can’t read too much into the one-week change as the seasonally adjusted headline figures can be noisy during the week that includes the July 4th holiday,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
The report said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 246,750, a decrease of 6,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 253,500.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 11,000 to 1.729 million in the week ended July 1st.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still fell to 1,735,250, a decrease of 10,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,746,000.
“Seasonal noise aside, the claims data are consistent with a labor market that may becoming less tight but is still characterized by very few layoffs,” said Vanden Houten. “The FOMC is still on track, in our view, to raise rates at its meeting later this month.”
A separate, more closely watched report released by the Labor Department last Friday showed employment in the U.S. increased by less than expected in the month of June.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment jumped by 209,000 jobs in June, while economists had expected employment to shoot up by 225,000 jobs.
The report also showed the surges in employment in April and May were downwardly revised to 217,000 jobs and 306,000 jobs, respectively, reflecting a combined downward revision of 110,000.
Meanwhile, the report showed the unemployment rate edged down to 3.6 percent in June from 3.7 percent in May, in line with economist estimates.
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