The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting that a sharp slowdown in job growth last month was probably an aberration.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000 for the week ended Sept. 13, the Labor Department said on Thursday. It was the lowest level since July.
Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to only 305,000 last week.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, slipped 4,750 to 299,500.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data.
Last week's data covered the period during which employers were surveyed for September's non-farm payrolls. Claims fell 19,000 between the August and September survey periods.
That suggests payrolls growth rebounded from August's eight-month low, which most economists dismissed as a fluke, noting that payroll gains tend to be smaller in August because of problems adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations in hiring.
Employers added only 142,000 jobs to their payrolls in August, snapping six consecutive months of job increases above 200,000.
The jobless claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 63,000 to 2.43 million in the week ended Sept. 6. That was the lowest level since May 2007.
The unemployment rate for people receiving jobless benefits fell to 1.8 percent, the lowest level since November 2006, from 1.9 percent in the prior week.