The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased modestly last week, but labor market conditions continued to tighten.
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Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000 for the week ended June 20, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. It was the 16th straight week that claims held below 300,000, a threshold usually associated with a firming labor market.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 272,000 last week. A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,250 to 273,750 last week.
The labor market is tightening, with the unemployment rate not too far from the 5.0 percent to 5.2 percent range that most Federal Reserve officials consider consistent with full employment.
In addition, job growth is picking up, with nonfarm payrolls increasing 280,000 in May.
Thursday's claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 22,000 to 2.25 million in the week ended June 13. The so-called continuing claims data covered the period during which the government surveyed households for June's unemployment rate.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose 14,500 between the May and June survey periods, suggesting little change in the jobless rate. The unemployment rate was at 5.5 percent in May. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)