First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged lower in the week ended August 4th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 213,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 219,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 220,000 from the 218,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 214,250, a decrease of 500 from the previous week’s revised average of 214,750.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance rose by 29,000 to 1.755 million in the week ended July 28th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also inched up to 1,745,250, an increase of
3,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,742,250.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing much weaker than expected job growth in the month of July.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 157,000 jobs in July after spiking by an upwardly revised 248,000 jobs in June.
Economists had expected employment to increase by about 190,000 jobs compared to the jump of 213,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Despite the weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent in July from 4.0 percent in June, matching estimates.