September 4, 2014 8:35 AM, EDT
Jobless Claims Little Changed as Firings Dwindle
Penn State/Flickr

Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. were little changed last week as an improving economy prompted businesses to retain staff.

Jobless claims rose by 4,000 to 302,000 in the week ended Aug. 30, the Labor Department reported.

The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 300,000. The total number of people on benefit rolls fell to the lowest level in more than seven years.

A stronger pace of hiring is helping brighten Americans’ moods about the labor market and limiting filings for unemployment pay.

“Layoff activity is very low,” said Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. “Companies have a need for the current people on the books and are looking to hire more.”

The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected the number of claims would be little changed at 300,000 last week. Estimates ranged from 290,000 to 315,000.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, climbed to 302,750 from 299,750 in the prior week.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 64,000 to 2.46 million in the week ended Aug. 23, the fewest since June 2007. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.9% during that period, the report showed.

Employment rose in July by 209,000 after a 298,000 advance the prior month. The jobless rate rose to 6.2% from an almost six-year low of 6.1% as more Americans entered the labor force seeking work.