The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week, after matching the highest level of the year the week before.
About 386,000 people filed for initial jobless claims in the week ending June 23, down 6,000 from the revised 392,000 the week before, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.
The 392,000 claims in the June 16 week matched the high for the year, set the week ended April 21.
The four-week moving average fell to 386,750 from the previous week's revised average of 387,500. Initial claims are a volatile number, which is why economists often look to a four-week average to eliminate some of the choppiness.
Economists see jobless claims as an important economic indicator, and a good gauge of the job market because of their close correlation to layoffs.
Jobless claims have been in the 380,000 range for four straight months, indicating that there hasn't been much progress since claims fell at a faster rate during the first three months of the year.