Initial jobless last week remained essentially flat with the prior week, hovering around 400,000 for the third week in a row. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Aug. 6 decreased by 7,000 to 395,000 from a slightly revised 402,000 the previous week. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 405,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 397,000 and 450,000. Most economists believe weekly jobless claims lower than 400,000 indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, declined by 3,250 to 405,000 from the prior week’s 408,250. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended July 30 slid back to 2.9% from 3% the prior week, according to the Labor Department. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended July 23 fell to about 7.48 million from 7.57 million the prior week. Write to Jason Philyaw.

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