Unemployment claims drop by 6,000

Nickalas Tabbert

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 last week, USA Today reported.

That brings the total to roughly 360,000, a level consistent with modest gains in hiring.

The labor department said Thursday that the less than four-week average rose by 2,250 to 368,250 in the week that ended Aug. 4.

A second report Thursday said the U.S. trade deficit fell to its lowest level in 18 months in June, pushed down by a steep drop in oil imports and a small rise in exports, USA Today said.

Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said fewer unemployment applications suggest a fairly stable job market.

“The pick-up in jobs growth in July may therefore be sustained in August,” Dales said.

The economy added 163,000 jobs in July, the biggest increase since February, ABC News reported. From April through June, employers had created a lackluster 73,000 jobs a month, not enough to keep pace with a rising population.

Even with the increase, hiring is competitive. There were 12.7 million unemployed people in June, or an average of 3.4 unemployed people for each job.