The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting the labor market was continuing to gain momentum.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 261,000 for the week ended Aug. 20, the Labor Department said on Thursday. It was the third straight weekly decline in claims.
Claims for the prior week were unrevised. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 265,000 in the latest week.
Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labor market, for 77 straight weeks. That is the longest such stretch since 1973, when the labor market was much smaller.