U.S. jobless claims climb 7,000 to 343,000
By Jeffry Bartash
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 to 343,000 in the week ended July 20, showing little change in the U.S. labor market, according to government data released Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to rise to 342,000 from a revised 336,000 in the prior week, adjusted for seasonal variations. The average of new claims over the past month, a more reliable gauge than the volatile weekly number, dropped by 1,250 to 345,250, marking the lowest level since mid-May, the Labor Department said. Also, the government said continuing claims decreased by 119,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.99 million in the week ended July 13. Continuing claims, issued after a one-week lag, reflect the number of people already receiving benefits. Initial claims from two weeks ago, meanwhile, were revised up by 2,000 from an original reported 334,000.