First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits showed a modest decrease in the week ended August 24th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 331,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 337,000.
The modest drop came roughly in line with the expectations of economists, who expected jobless claims to dip to 330,000 from the 336,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Despite the modest pullback, however, jobless claims remain above the five-year low of 322,000 set in the week ended August 10th.
The Labor Department also said the less volatile four-week moving average inched up to 331,250, an increase of 750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 330,500.
The four-week moving average recorded for the previous week was the lowest since November of 2007.
Meanwhile, the report also showed that continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell to 2.989 million in the week ended August 17th from the preceding week's revised level of 3.003 million.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose to 2,996,250, an increase of 9,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,986,750.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release is closely watched monthly report on the employment situation.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment increased by 162,000 jobs in July following a downwardly revised increase of 188,000 jobs in June. Economists had expected employment to increase by about 175,000 jobs.
Despite the weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate dipped to 7.4 percent in July from 7.6 percent in June. The unemployment rate had been expected to edge down to 7.5 percent.
With the bigger than expected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting 7.3 percent in December of 2008.
by RTT Staff Writer
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