New jobless claims fall after rise in previous week

Data released from the federal government shows workers still face an unpredictable job market as initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, just as revised figures showed an uptick in the number of first-time claims in the week prior.

The number of workers filing for initial unemployment benefits for the first time fell last week by 4,000 to 570,000, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. A more important measure, showing the average number of claims during a four-week period, however, rose 4,000 to 571,250. The data allows for seasonal variations in employment.

The report also showed the number of Americans who continue to receive benefits rose 92,000 to 6.23 million in the week ending August 22. Last year during the same period 3.45 million workers were collecting benefits.

States with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending August 22 were in California, Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, while Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Alabama, showed the greatest decreases, the Labor Department said.

For the week ending August 15, states with the highest unemployment rates among workers eligible for benefits included Oregon, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, Connecticut, California, New Jersey and North Carolina, the government said.

Meanwhile, fresh data about the nation's service sector is expected to show a rise in activity, adding to economists' belief that the nation's economy is indeed on the rebound.

The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index likely rose to 48 from 46.4 in July, according to a median forecast of 70 economists. That would be the fastest pace since September last year.

The services sector represents about 80 percent of U.S. economic activity, including businesses such as banks, airlines, hotels and restaurants.

The ISM report is due Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.
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