A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged down by much less than expected in the week ended July 11th.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 1.300 million, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level 1.310 million.
Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 1.250 million from the 1.314 million originally reported for the previous week.
Jobless claims fell for the fifteenth consecutive week, although the pace of decline has slowed considerably from April and May.
The report said the less volatile four-week moving average fell to 1,375,000, a decrease of 60,000 from the previous week's revised average of 1,435,000.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also tumbled by 422,000 to 17.338 million in the week ended July 4th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims plunged to 18,272,250, a decrease of 737,750 from the previous week's revised average of 19,010,000.
"Initial jobless claims for regular state benefits and emergency federal benefits topped 2.4 trillion last week, underscoring that layoffs remain widespread," said a note from economists at Oxford Economics.
The economists added, "And the risk may be for additional layoffs going forward as some states reimpose more restrictive measures to combat surging Covid-19 cases."