June 26, 2014 8:35 AM, EDT
Jobless Claims Decreased 2,000 Last Week to 312,000
USAG- Humphreys/Flickr

Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign of steady progress in the labor market.

Jobless claims fell by 2,000 to a one-month low of 312,000 in the week ended June 21, the Labor Department reported. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 310,000 initial claims.

Dismissals are hovering just above their pre-recession lows, and hiring has picked up as companies grow confident the economy will snap back from the worst contraction in five years. Employment that’s on pace for its best year since 1999 will need to spark faster wage growth for consumer spending to accelerate.

“The labor market should be able to sustain a decent amount of growth,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorina Ramirez Inc. “The economy is all right for the balance of this year.”

Economists’ jobless claims estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 305,000 to 325,000 after an initially reported 312,000 in the week ended June 14.

The four-week average of claims, a less volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 314,250 from 312,250 the week before.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits climbed by 12,000 to 2.57 million in the week ended June 14. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits rose to 2% during that period from 1.9%, the June 26 report showed.