The four-week moving average, which economists prefer because it smoothes out weekly fluctuations, rose 14,250 to 473,500, also the highest level since the week ended February 20th. Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims in the latest week to fall to 465,000 from the previously reported 479,000.
The number of people still collecting unemployment benefits after an initial week of aid in the week ended July 31st fell 118,000 to 4.45 million, the lowest level since late June. Economists had expected 4.53 million. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 64,500 to 4.52 million, the lowest level since December 2008.