Labor Market Stronger |Than Expected Last Week

     (CN) – The number of U.S. citizens filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, reinforcing the perception of a strong labor market and potentially setting the stage for an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
     The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits dropped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 262,000 for the week ended Aug. 13. Analysts had expected claims to be closer to 265,000.
     Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labor market, for 76 straight weeks the longest streak since 1970.
     Applications for unemployment benefits are considered a proxy for layoffs. The numbers suggest that not only has the number of layoffs fallen, but hiring has improved.
     Employers added 255,000 jobs in July, after a strong 292,000 in June, the most in eight months.

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