The Labor Department reported that 310,000 newly laid off workers applied for jobless benefits last week. That was a small increase of 5,000 claims, but it occurred after a dramatic drop of 32,000 in the previous week and left claims at a level indicating the labor market remained healthy.
A flurry of indicators in recent weeks have flashed signals that the economy had successfully emerged from a rough patch in the spring and was entering the second half of the year with renewed momentum.
The small 5,000 rise in claims last week was better than the 17,000-claims increase that analysts had been expecting. Government analysts said that there were fewer layoffs in autos and large number of other industries.
The 310,000 total claims came after 305,000 claims the previous week. Both weeks represented the lowest level for claims in the past three months. The four-week moving average for claims edged down to 318,250 from 318,500 the previous week.
Private analysts said the low level of layoffs in the past two weeks showed that the labor market was improving after extensive plant shutdowns in the auto industry in July for retooling for the new model year.