US weekly jobless claims total 268,000 vs 267,000 estimate

Job seekers wait in line to speak with representatives during a Choice Career Fair in Los Angeles.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose last week, but remained below a level associated with a healthy labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000 for the week ended June 25, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims rising to 267,000 in the latest week. Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong jobs market, for 69 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, was unchanged at 266,750 last week.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data and only claims for Georgia had been estimated.

The low level of layoffs suggests underlying strength in the labor market even though hiring slowed sharply in May, with nonfarm payrolls increasing only 38,000, the smallest gain since September 2010.

Although economists believe job growth picked up in June, there are worries that Britain's vote last week to leave the European Union could prompt companies to delay hiring amid uncertainty over how the so-called Brexit will unfold.

The Brexit vote wiped a record $3 trillion off the value of global shares in a two-day selloff. While global equities have since recovered some of the losses, it is unclear whether the financial turmoil triggered by the referendum is over.

A Reuters survey of economists forecast payrolls rising 180,000 in June. The Labor Department will publish its June employment report on July 8.

The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 20,000 to 2.12 million in the week ended June 18. The four-week average of the so-called continuing claims dropped 13,000 to 2.13 million, the lowest level since November 2000.

The continuing claims covered the period during which the government surveyed households for June's unemployment rate. The four-week average of claims declined 17,000 between the May and June survey periods.

A Reuters survey of economists forecast the unemployment rate rising to 4.8 percent in June from an 8-1/2-year low of 4.7 percent in May.