Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose by 3,000 last week to 267,000, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists projected jobless claims to increase to 272,000. The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure of job cuts, dropped to the lowest level in more than a month.Claims are hovering near historically low levels as employers retain workers to cater to sales growth. Rising demand for labor, including steady payrolls growth and more job openings, will help to sustain household spending, the biggest part of the economy. “We’re not seeing a whole lot of layoffs,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Financial Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Claims have settled at a pretty low level. The labor market is definitely improving.” Economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey for weekly jobless claims ranged from 260,000 to 283,000. The four-week moving average decreased to 271,750 last week from 272,500.
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