The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 1,000 to 263,000 last week. The claims data has no bearing on August’s employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday, as it falls outside the survey period.
According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 180,000 jobs in August after rising by 255,000 in July. The unemployment rate is seen falling one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.8 percent.
August’s anticipated step-down in job gains would follow two straight months of payroll increases above 250,000. Friday’s employment report could determine whether the Fed raises interest rates again later this month or in December.
The U.S. central bank increased its benchmark overnight interest rate last December for the first time in nearly a decade.
Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 14,000 to 2.16 million in the week ended Aug. 20. The four-week average of the so-called continuing claims rose 4,500 to 2.16 million.