The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week and held at relatively healthy levels that could support Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates this year.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 254,000 for the week ended Sept. 24, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the report to show 260,000 new claims.
The four-week moving average of new claims, which smoothes out volatility, fell 2,250 to 256,000.
Continuing claims fell 46,000 to 2.062 million in the week ended Sept. 17.