The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength in early August that could help spur faster economic growth.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 266,000 for the week ended Aug. 6, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims declining to 265,000 in the latest week. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data and no states had been estimated.
Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labor market, for 75 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1973.>
With the labor market perceived to be either at or approaching full employment, there is probably little room for further declines in claims. A report on Wednesday showed layoffs fell to a near two-year low in June.
The robust labor market is boosting consumer spending and putting a floor under the economy after an inventory correction and lower oil prices restricted GDP growth to an average 1.0 percent annualized rate in the last three quarters.
The economy added a total of 547,000 jobs in June and July. The low number of claims suggests job growth momentum was retained in early August.
Thursday's claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 14,000 to 2.16 million in the week ended July 30. The four-week average of the so-called continuing claims rose 500 to 2.14 million.