A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed a continued decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended August 14th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 348,000, a decrease of 29,000 from the previous week’s revised level or 377,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 363,000 from the 375,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Initial jobless claims decreased for the fourth consecutive week, falling to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

“The latest data suggest that the labor market recovery remained on track in early August despite rising concerns surrounding the rapid spread of the Delta variant,” said Lydia Boussour, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, “Looking ahead, the virus could slow the return of workers still on the sidelines but assuming the variant doesn’t force renewed containment measures, we maintain our positive labor market outlook and foresee the economy recouping about 7.5mn jobs this year.”

The report showed the less volatile four-week moving average also dipped to a pandemic-era low of 377,750, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 396,750.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also slid by 79,000 to 2.820 million in the week ended August 7th, hitting their lowest level in well over a year.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also tumbled to 2,998,750, a decrease of 110,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 3,109,250.


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