The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to a solid labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 for the week ended July 11, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The decline reversed the prior week's rise and ended three straight weeks of increases.
Claims tend to be volatile during the summer when automakers normally shut assembly plants for annual retooling. However, some of the companies keep production running, which can throw off a model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the data and no states had been estimated.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 3,250 to 282,500 last week.