On Thursday, the Labor Department said that applications for last week for benefits from unemployment dropped by 6,000 to an adjusted seasonally rate of 275,000. The average of four weeks, which is a much less volatile number, was up only 500 to 275,750.
Applications for benefits have increased by 11,000 previous week to over 281,000. However, even that slight uptick kept the benefit claims, which is a proxy for layoffs, below the all-important threshold of 300,000. Applications have been less than that level for the last six months, a stretch that has not been seen for the past 42 years.
Last week, the federal government reported that the rate of unemployment had fallen to a low of seven years at 5.1% for August. That put the rate at a level that was viewed by many economists as being full employment, which is one of the major goals of the Federal Reserve for managing the economy.
The report indicated that the amount of people receiving benefits for unemployment stood at over 2.25 million during the week that ended August 29, which was up 1,000 from the week before.
The central bank is following closely all the different economic data in advance of its monthly meeting next when officials might decide to increase the interest rate for the first time in nearly nine years.
A key rate for the Fed has been close to zero since December of 2008, when the bank battled to pull the U.S. economy from its worst downturn economically since the 1930s.
Unemployment dropped significantly since then when it reached a high of 10% during the recession.
However, another priority of the Fed is maintaining the rate of inflation rising to its optimum 2% rate a year, a goal that it has not been able to met.