The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, suggesting labor market conditions continued to tighten.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 270,000 for the week ended Aug. 1, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
It was the 22nd consecutive week that claims held below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a strengthening labor market. Economists had expected claims to rise to 273,000 last week.
Claims are volatile during the summer when automakers usually shut assembly plants for annual retooling. Some firms keep production lines running, which can throw off a model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal variations.
However, 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, fell 6,500 to 268,250 last week.