The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the trend continued to point to a healthy labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000 for the week ended July 30, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims edging down to 265,000 in the latest week.
Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labor market, for 74 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1973. With the labor market perceived to be either at or approaching full employment, there is probably limited scope for further declines in claims.
Claims tend to be volatile around this time of the year when automobile manufacturers typically idle assembly lines for retooling. Some, however, often keep production running, which can throw off the model the government uses to strip out seasonal fluctuations from the data.