Job seekers, right, speak with recruiters (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Applications for U.S. Jobless Benefits Rise Less Than Forecast

(Bloomberg) -- The number of applications for unemployment benefits barely rose last week, indicating employers remain comfortable with staffing levels.

Jobless claims edged up 1,000 in the week ended Sep. 10 to 260,000, a report from the Labor Department showed Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 265,000. Continuing claims were also little changed.

Applications for unemployment insurance are staying close to a four-decade low as companies with a record number of job openings keep workers on board. The figures are consistent with tight labor conditions, which Federal Reserve policy makers will consider when they gather next week to debate whether to raise interest rates.

The less-volatile four-week average of jobless claims dropped to 260,750, the lowest level since the end of July, from 261,250.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 250,000 to 275,000.

No states or U.S. territories estimated jobless claims last week, and there was nothing unusual in the figures, according to the Labor Department.

Filings have been below 300,000 for 80 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 1970. That is typically consistent with an improving job market.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits also climbed by 1,000, to 2.14 million in the week ended Sept.

3. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.6 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings, and a sustained low level of applications has typically coincided with faster job gains. Many layoffs may also reflect company- or industry-specific causes, such as cost-cutting or business restructuring, rather than underlying labor market trends.