Claims had been higher in recent weeks, due to layoffs by automakers and other manufacturers, which shut down for retooling in the summer,
According to data released by the Department of Labor, the number of first time benefits claimants fell, for the third consecutive week, by 23,000 from the previous week?s revised figure of 369,000.
Some 80,000 people ceased to claim unemployment benefits in the week of July 21 the latest week for which data is available, bringing the number of people who have claimed more than one week of benefits to 3,002,000.
The closely monitored four-week moving average, a better barometer of the state of unemployment fell by 1,500 to 3,057,250 from the previous week.
The largest increase in initial claims for the week ending July 21 was in Delaware, where employers in transportation equipment, food, trade and service industries trimmed their payrolls by 1,266, according to the data.
In contrast, the number of initial claims fell by 17,898 in North Carolina, where few layoffs occurred in the textile, apparel and furniture industries
The jobless claims figure, which is well below analysts, expectations, comes ahead of tomorrow’s much anticipated July unemployment numbers.