U.S. Jobless Claims Rose Last Week -- Update

By Sarah Chaney Features Dow Jones Newswires

The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits rose last week, though overall numbers remain consistent with steady job gains.

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Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000 in the week ended June 24, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast 241,000 new claims.

"Nothing in these numbers suggests that the labor market is slackening," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients.

Estimates of jobless claims can be volatile from week to week, but generally have hovered near four-decade lows in recent months, suggesting that employers are holding on to workers.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, which evens out weekly volatility, decreased last week to 242,250.

The number of claims drawn by workers for longer than a week -- so-called continuing claims -- grew 6,000 to 1.948 million in the week ended June 17, the fourth consecutive week-over-week increase. Data on continuing claims are released with a one-week lag.

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The persistently low level of layoffs is a signal of a tightening labor market and points to strength in the broader economy.

Weekly claims have remained below 300,000 for 121 consecutive weeks, the longest such streak since 1970 -- when the U.S. population and workforce were far smaller than they are now.

The Labor Department said in its latest jobs report that the economy added 138,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped in May to 4.3%, a 16-year low.

Write to Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 29, 2017 10:25 ET (14:25 GMT)