The number of people filing first-time clams for unemployment insurance rose by 8,000 last week, to 365,000 from 357,000 the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.
It adds that the "4-week moving average," which is supposed to give a slightly broader look at the trend in claims, "was 365,500, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week's revised average of 368,250."
But according to The Associated Press:
"Economists are viewing last month's figures with some caution because the government struggles every July to account for temporary summer shutdowns in the auto industry. This year, some automakers skipped shutdowns, resulting in fewer layoffs. When applications consistently fall below 375,000, it suggests hiring is strong enough to pull the unemployment rate down."
Bloomberg News adds that "starting next week, the data should be clear of any influence from the annual auto plant retooling closures that make it difficult to adjust the data for seasonal variations, a Labor Department spokesman said."
Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET, we're due to hear about the July unemployment rate and growth in payrolls. According to Reuters, "the government is expected to report ... that employers added 100,000 new workers." If job growth is that sluggish, that could mean the unemployment rate ticked up from June's 8.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the AP also reports that "retailers are reporting solid gains in July in a key revenue figure, helped by hot weather and clearance sales."