The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that could push the Federal Reserve closer to raising interest rates.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000 for the week ended Aug. 27, the Labor Department said on Thursday. 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.
It was the 78th consecutive week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a robust labor market. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.
With the labor market nearing full employment, there probably is limited scope for further declines in claims.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data and that no states had been estimated.