The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid fell more than market expectations last week as the labor market kept improving.
In the week ending July 5, the advance figure of seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits decreased to 304,000, 11,000 less than the revised level of the previous week and much better than the market expectation of 315,000, according to the data released by the U.S. Labor Department on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which helps smooth out week-to-week volatility, edged down by 3,500 to 311,500 last week. The advance figure of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 28 increased 10,000 from the previous week to 2,584,000.
In the eyes of economists, initial claims for jobless benefits reflect the latest firings in a week. A decrease or keeping at a low level is a good signal for the job market.
The Labor Department said earlier this month that the nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, posting the fifth consecutive month with job gains above 200,000, much higher than economists' expectation of 215,000. The unemployment rate declined from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent, the lowest level since September 2008, indicating that the job market was improving.