Jobless benefit claims climb slightly

The number of Americans seeking new jobless benefits climbed slightly in the last week, but remain near eight-year lows.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 311,000 people sought jobless claims for the first time in the week ending Aug. 9, up slightly from the revised level of 290,000 from the previous week.

The four-week moving average, which aims to paint a more accurate picture of the overall labor market, was also up slightly, climbing 2,000 to 295,750.

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But those figures are still relatively close to the steep drop reported last week, in which the number of people seeking new unemployment benefits fell to an eight-year low.

Last week, the Labor Department reported that just 289,000 people sought new benefits at the end of July, and 293,500 was the monthly average.

Thursday’s new report revises both of those numbers up slightly, but not enough to significantly alter indications that the labor market is entering a new, healthier stage.

The positive data on the jobless front complements a steady string of solid reports on the number of jobs created in the economy. In July, the government reported that employers added 209,000 jobs, making it the sixth straight month the economy added more than 200,000 a month. The unemployment rate stands at 6.2 percent.