NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance fell last week, the government said Thursday.
There were 457,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended July 24, down 11,000 from a upwardly revised 468,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.
The number of claims was lower than the 464,000 claims expected in a consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com.
The 4-week moving average of initial claims, which is calculated to smooth out volatility, was 452,000, down 4,500 from the previous week's upwardly revised average of 457,000.
"It's always good to see a decrease, especially after last week's big jump, but there are a lot of factors muddying up this data," said Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services. "Jobless claims have been trending sideways for most of this year, down some weeks and up others, and I expect that to continue through the rest of the summer."
Dye said the broader labor market conditions are generally improving, but at a slow pace as employers, investors and consumers remain uncertain about economic recovery.
"Confidence hasn't improved as quickly as it has from prior recessions, and there's a great deal of talk about the possibility of a double-dip recession," he said. "But I think jobless claims will begin to trend downward beginning in the fall as hiring confidence returns."
Continuing claims: The government said 4,565,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended July 17, the most recent data available. That's up 81,000 from the preceding week's downwardly revised 4,484,000 claims.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com were looking for 4,550,000 ongoing claims.
The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims decreased by 18,000 to 4,548,250 from the preceding week's revised 4,566,250.
State by state: Jobless claims in 10 states declined by more than 1,000 in the week ended July 17, the most recent state data available.
Claims in New York dropped the most, by 19,552, which the state attributed to fewer layoffs in the transportation and service industries.
Claims rose by more than 1,000 in seven states, increasing the most in Alabama. Filings rose in Alabama by 1,061 due to layoffs in the transportation equipment and the primary metals industries, according to the state.