Initial claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly came in unchanged in the week ended August 25th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report showed that initial jobless claims came in at 374,000, unchanged compared to the previous week's revised figure.
Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 370,000 from the 372,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Jim O'Sullivan, Chief U.S. Economist at High Frequency Economics, said, "While claims are up slightly from a couple of weeks ago, they continue to show an encouraging net decline in the last couple of months."
"The decline corroborates the pick-up in payrolls in the July employment report, even if the 163,000 rise exaggerated the underlying trend somewhat," he added. "Employment growth may not be very strong, but it is not as weak as it looked in Q2."
The Labor Department said that the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to 370,250 from the previous week's revised average of 368,750.
At the same time, the report also showed that continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, dipped to 3.316 million in the week ended August 18th from the preceding week's revised level of 3.321 million.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still rose to 3,321,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,312,500.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its closely watched monthly employment report for the month of August.
The jobs report for July showed that non-farm payroll employment increased by 163,000 jobs following a downwardly revised increase of 64,000 jobs in June. Economists had expected employment to increase by about 100,000 jobs.
Despite the job growth for the month, the unemployment rate edged up to 8.3 percent in July from 8.2 percent in June. The increase surprised economists, who had expected the unemployment rate to come in unchanged.
by RTT Staff Writer
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