With fewer manufacturing layoffs in North Carolina and Wisconsin, initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 316,000 for the week ending August 26, the U.S. Labor Department reported on August 31. Last week's total for first-time claims was 2,000 fewer than the department's revised figure of 318,000 for the week ending August 19.
The department's four-week moving average for initial claims edged up last week to 317,500, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised average of 316,500. That's still consistent with Merrill Lynch & Co.'s belief that the U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs this month. The Labor Department is slated to release August employment figures on Friday, September 1.