The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, showing that the labor market remained strength.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 in the week ended Sept. 3, the lowest level since mid-July, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised at 263,000.
Economists polled by Wall Street had expected the jobless claims to be 265,000 in the latest week.
The Labor Department said there were no special factors impacting last week’s data. However, claims in five state and Puerto Rico were estimated because Monday’s Labor Day holiday had caused delays in the processing of the data.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less-volatile measure for jobless claims, fell by 1,750 to 261,250.
While the jobless claims remained very low this year, the pace of job growth is slowing.In August, the economy created 151,000 jobs compared with more than 270,000 in each of the previous two months. Employers have added jobs at a monthly pace of 182,000 so far this year, a slowdown from 2014 and 2015.
“In the context of a strong economy with good momentum, it makes sense to get back to a pace of gradual rate increases, preferably sooner rather than later,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said Tuesday.