NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Lines at the unemployment office grew shorter for the third week in a row last week, the government said Thursday, hinting at a slight pickup in the U.S. job market a day ahead of the monthly employment report.|
New claims for state unemployment benefits fell to 346,000 in the week ended July 28 from a revised 369,000 the prior week, and were at their lowest level since hitting 330,000 in the week ended Feb 17, the Labor Department reported. Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast new claims of 390,000.
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New claims had fallen below 400,000 for the first time in more than a month the week before.
The four-week moving average of new claims, considered a better gauge of jobless trends, fell to 395,250 from the previous period's revised 409,750. Economists watch the four-week moving average more closely since it smoothes fluctuations in the weekly data.
Continued claims -- those by workers who already have claimed at least a week of benefits – fell to 3.0 million in the week ended July 21, the latest data available, from a revised 3.1 million the prior week.
The report on weekly jobless claims comes a day before the Labor Department reports on July unemployment – the government's first look at the economy's performance last month.