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[WASHINGTON] US claims for unemployment insurance, a sign of the pace of layoffs, were slightly higher last week but continued to signal a firm jobs market, Labour Department data showed Thursday.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 263,000 in the week ending August 27, up 2,000 from the previous week. It was the 78th consecutive week of claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.
Claims have held in the 250,000-300,000 range since last year as strong hiring by US businesses offsets company layoffs and job losses for other reasons.
Analysts expect that hiring by the private sector and government agencies remained firm in July, the figures for which will be reported on Friday.
The consensus forecast is for the unemployment rate to fall a notch to 4.8 per cent on the back of 180,000 jobs added in the month, slightly below the average for the past three months.