Initial Jobless Claims Fall to Four-Month Low

Initial jobless claims fell by 7,000 in the week ending August 6 to 395,000, the lowest figure since April. Economists had expected applications for jobless benefits to increase slightly to 405,000. Initial jobless claims are a measure of weekly firings, and tend to fall as job growth accelerates.

Investing Insights: The Stage is Set for Ben Bernanke and Precious Metals.

Any figure below 400,000 implies growth in the job market, though this week’s low figure is mostly the result of companies cutting back on firing rather than boosting hiring. But last week’s initial claims “have provided some hopeful signs that the labor market is healing,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. However, “the improvement in initial claims may pause as the labor market suffers a hangover following the U.S. debt- ceiling debate and tightening in financial market conditions.”

The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the job market, fell to 405,000 initial jobless claims, also the lowest figure since April. The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits decreased by 60,000 to 3.69 million in the week ending July 30. Those having used up their regular benefits and now collecting emergency and extended payments fell by 16,000 to 3.7 million in the week ending July 23. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 2.9% in the week ending July 30.

Hot Feature: Here’s Why Nearly Half of All American Don’t Pay Federal Income Tax.