The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, pointing to further tightening labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits edged up 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000 for the week ended Sept. 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 265,000 in the latest week.
It was the 80th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with robust labor market conditions. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's data and no states had been estimated.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, slipped 500 to 260,750 last week.
Claims likely have little room for decline further as the labor market nears full employment.
Thursday's claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 1,000 to 2.14 million in the week ended Sept. 3. The four-week average of the so-called continuing claims fell 8,000 to 2.15 million.
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