After several weeks of rising claims, first-time applications for unemployment assistance fell last week for the first time since July.
Figures released by the Labor Department showed initial unemployment claims dropped to 250,000 in the week ending Aug. 13, a drop of some 2,000 from the adjusted total of the previous week.
The statistics come a couple of weeks after the Labor Department said the U.S economy added 528,000 jobs in July, and a couple of weeks before the August jobs report, expected early next month.
Bloomberg reported that its survey of economists expected some 264,000 first-time claims. Continuing claims, meanwhile, climbed to 1.44 million in the week ended Aug. 6.
The drop in jobless claims points to still-healthy labor demand as companies try to attract and retain employees amid lingering worker shortages. However, several employers have been laying off staff or freezing hiring amid economic uncertainty, which could continue as the Federal Reserve pursues an aggressive path of interest-rate hikes.