U.S. jobless claims edged higher by 4,000 to 277,000 in the week ended February 4, the Labor Department said Feb. 8. Economists were expecting an increase in new claims to about 285,000 in the most recent week.
The four-week average of seasonally adjusted new claims fell to 276,500, the lowest since April 2000. The average number of new claims is nearly 50,000 lower than it was for most of 2005. The four-week average is considered a better gauge of new claims because it smoothes out one-time disturbances, such as holidays, intense weather and strikes.