The FINANCIAL — The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose last week but remained at historically low levels, according to Nasdaq.
Initial jobless claims, an estimate of layoffs, climbed 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000 in the week ended July 4, the Labor Department said on July 9.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 275,000 new claims.
The department said 282,000 claims were filed the previous week, revising up its earlier estimate of 281,000.
Jobless claims can be volatile from week to week, particularly around holidays when workweeks are shortened. But they have generally been falling since 2009 and have stayed below the psychologically important benchmark of 300,000 for 18 consecutive weeks. A four-week moving average designed to look beyond short-term volatility rose by 4,500 to 279,500.
Low jobless claims can be a sign of labor market health. In a separate report last week, the Labor Department said employers added 223,000 jobs in June. That helped push the unemployment rate down to 5.3%, the lowest level since April 2008.
The number of long-term unemployed and part-time workers who want full-time work has also been steadily declining.
The recent reports have led Federal Reserve officials to conclude the labor market is on the right track, according to minutes of their June meeting released Wednesday.
Still, the central bank officials introduced a note of caution. Most of them “judged that further progress would be required to eliminate underutilization of labor resources,” the minutes said.
Thursday’s report also showed the number of people filing continuing claims for unemployment benefits increased 69,000 to 2.3 million in the week ended June 27. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.