NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - New claims for jobless benefits fell last week, the government said Thursday, staying under the key level of 400,000 for the second consecutive week to signal improvement in the nation's struggling job market.
The number of initial claims for state jobless benefits for the week ended July 26 fell to 388,000 from a revised 391,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.
Economists, on average, expected 400,000 new claims, according to Briefing.com.
Many economists view 400,000 as the sign of a soft job market. Claims had been above 400,000 for 22 straight weeks.
The four-week moving average of new claims, which smoothes out the weekly fluctuations, fell to 408,750 from a revised 420,500 the prior week.
Continued claims, the number of people out of work for a week or more, rose to 3.6 million for the week ended July 19 from a revised 3.5 million the prior week.