Jobless claims declined by 11,000 to 304,000 in the week ended July 5, the fewest in more than a month, a Labor Department reported.
The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 315,000. There was nothing unusual in the data and no states were estimated, a spokesman said as the figures were released.
Combined with data last week that showed payrolls exceeded expectations in June and the unemployment rate fell to an almost six-year low, the drop in firings signals a rebound in second-half economic growth. As demand improves, employers will probably take on more workers, helping to lift consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy.
“The declining trend in claims is very encouraging, and is further evidence that the strong payrolls number we saw for June is not a fluke,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and the most accurate forecaster of jobless claims in the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “The labor market is gaining momentum. This is consistent with strong gains in consumer spending.”