Fewer Americans have sought weekly unemployment benefits in the past month, a sign hiring may be improving a bit. Economists expect the trend to have continued last week, though just barely.
Analysts forecast that weekly applications declined 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, according to a survey by FactSet. The Labor Department will release the report at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Thursday.
Applications have declined about 6 percent in the past two months. The department said last week that the four-week average of applications, which smooths out week-to-week fluctuations, fell to 363,750. That was its lowest level since March.
The decline suggests that companies are laying off fewer workers and hiring may pick up. When applications fall consistently below 375,000, it generally signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
The economy and job growth are improving a bit after falling into a midyear slump, though neither is particularly strong.
One area of improvement has been the housing market, which is slowly but steadily recovering. Sales of previously occupied homes rose 2.3 percent in July from June, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Sales jumped more than 10 percent in the past year.