Jobless Claims in U.S. Climbed Last Week From a Three-Month Low

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rose from a three-month low, consistent with the Federal Reserve’s view of a stronger job market.

Jobless claims increased by 14,000 to 266,000 in the week ended July 23, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 262,000 applications. The less-volatile four-week average dropped to remain at the second-lowest level since 1973.

Hiring managers are reluctant to pare staff as the labor market tightens and demand continues to expand in the face of subdued global growth prospects. Fed policy makers on Wednesday acknowledged a rebound in June employment and took a step toward raising interest rates before year-end.

“Claims at this point are telling you that you’re really near full employment,” said Brett Ryan, an economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. “There’s no evidence that layoffs are picking up. The labor market’s chugging along.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 245,000 to 275,000. The Labor Department revised the prior week’s reading to 252,000 from an initially reported 253,000.

Filings have been below 300,000 for 73 straight weeks --the longest stretch since 1973 and a level economists say is typically consistent with a healthy labor market.

While there was nothing unusual in the data, claims were estimated for Hawaii and Puerto Rico, according to the Labor Department.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped by 1,000 to 256,500.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 7,000 to 2.14 million in the week ended July 16. The four-week average declined to the lowest level since November 2000.

The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits edged up to 1.6 percent from 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Payrolls climbed in June by 287,000, the most since October, after a two-month lull. The jobless rate edged up to 4.9 percent from 4.7 percent as more people entered the labor force.

Economists project payrolls will ease in July to a 175,000 pace, in line with the 172,000 monthly average so far in 2016, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey ahead of the Aug. 5 Labor Department report.

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