Economic Report: Jobless claims fall 11,000 to 239,000. Layoffs in the U.S. still low.

The numbers: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell by 11,000 to 239,000, underscoring the strength of the labor market and remarkably low level of layoffs taking place in the economy.

New jobless claims retreated from a seven-week high of 250,000 in the prior week, the government said. The spike two weeks ago appeared to reflect the bankruptcy and layoffs tied to the large trucking firm Yellow Corp.

Unemployment claims typically rise when the economy weakens and a recession approaches. Yet claims still show a low number of job losses in a surprisingly resilient U.S. economy.

Economists had forecast the new claims in the week ended Aug. 12 to total 240,000.

Key details: New jobless claims declined in 43 of the 53 states and territories that report these figures to the federal government.

Nine others posted small upticks in new claims. Only Virginia had an increase of more than 1,000.

The number of people collecting unemployment benefits in the U.S., meanwhile, climbed by 32,000 to 1.72 million. Most laid-off workers appear to be finding new jobs relatively quickly.

Big picture: The jobs market isn’t hopping as much as it was last year, but plenty of companies are hiring and and there’s little sign of rising layoffs.

The economy is likely to keep expanding and stay out of a recession if unemployment remains low. The jobless rate, at 3.6%, is near a 55-year bottom.

Looking ahead: “We continue to expect that job growth is going to slow from here, but not for lack of demand,” U.S. economist Thomas Simons of Jefferies said in a note to clients.

“The claims data do not show any real evidence of a pickup in layoff activity, but the lack of supply of available labor makes it increasingly difficult to find to fill open positions,” he added.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
were set to open higher in Thursday trades.

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