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U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Edge Slightly Higher

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged slightly higher in the week ended August 21st, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 353,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level of 349,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to tick up to 350,000 from the 348,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average fell to 366,500, a decrease of 11,500 from the previous week's revised average of 378,000.

With the decrease, the four-week moving average dropped to its lowest level since hitting 225,500 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

The report also said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, edged down by 3,000 to 2.862 million in the week ended August 14th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also slid to 2,901,500, a decrease of 108,500 from the previous week's revised average of 3,010,000.

"We don't expect the end of emergency benefits to lead to an immediate jump in employment," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, "In the near-term other factors -- including the course of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and access to child care - will probably have a bigger impact on the labor market."

Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of August.

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