WASHINGTON -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits were unchanged last week at 374,000, slightly higher than analysts had expected, indicating jobs growth was still sluggish.
The four-week average for jobless claims ticked up to 370,250 from the previous week's revised figure of 368,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. Seasonally adjusted initial claims have been slowly increasing since the week ending July 21, when the number was 357,000.
The data point toward little movement in the unemployment rate in August, which the government is scheduled to release on Sept. 7.
"The U.S. labor market is healing gradually, but August is shaping up to be slightly weaker than anticipated," said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody's Analytics.