WASHINGTON — New applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in three months, suggesting fewer layoffs in early July than usual, according to government data.
Initial claims for state benefits dropped 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 405,000 in the week that ended July 9, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the smallest amount of new applications since mid-April.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected new requests for jobless benefits to total 420,000. Claims in the prior week were revised up to 427,000 from an original reading of 418,000.
The average of new claims over the last four weeks, meanwhile, dropped a much-smaller 3,750 to 423,250. The four-week average is seen as a more accurate barometer of labor trends because it smooths out week-to-week volatility in the data.