Initial jobless claims from July 23 to July 29 declined by 5,000 to 240,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. New claims count people who apply for unemployment benefits after losing their jobs.
The average of new claims over the past month, which gives a more stable picture of layoff trends, also fell slightly to 241,750.
New applications for benefits have totaled less than 300,000 for 126 straight weeks, extending the longest streak since the early 1970s.
The number of people already collecting unemployment checks, known as continuing claims, edged up by 3,000 to 1.97 million. Yet these claims have been under 2 million for 17 straight weeks, also the longest stretch since the early 1970s.
The government on Friday is expected to report that the U.S. added 180,000 new jobs in July. The unemployment rate could also retouch a 16-year low of 4.3%.
The U.S. has added 16.6 million jobs since 2010, supporting a U.S. economic expansion that’s now in its ninth year with little end in sight.
After the data, U.S. futures markets pointed to a flat opening for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.05%