The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in seven weeks, although applications remain elevated, the Associated Press reports.
The Labor Department said today that applications for benefits dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 418,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined for the first time in four weeks, to 424,750.
Applications have topped 400,000 for 13 weeks, evidence the job market has weakened since the beginning of the year. Applications had fallen in February to 375,000, a level that signals sustainable job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for seven of the next nine weeks. But then applications surged to an eight-month high of 478,000 in April and have shown only modest improvement since.
The government will release its June employment report Friday. Economists expect employers added a net total of 90,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained stuck at 9.1 percent, according to a survey by FactSet.