With the more closely watched monthly jobs report looming, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended July 31st.
The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 385,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 399,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 384,000 from the 400,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 394,000, a decrease of 250 from the previous week’s revised average of 394,250.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, tumbled by 366,000 to 2.930 million in the week ended July 24th.
With the substantial decrease, continuing claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 1.770 million in the week ended March 14, 2020.
The four-week moving average also slid to a more than one-year low of 3,188,250, a decrease of 109,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 3,297,500.
“The highly contagious Delta variant may slow the return of workers to the labor market,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics.
She added, “But assuming the variant doesn’t result in new lockdown measures, we maintain our positive labor market outlook and expect the economy to add 8 million jobs this year.”
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of July.
Economists currently expect the report to show employment surged up by 870,000 jobs in July after jumping by 850,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent.
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