Economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from claims of 300,000 to 335,000. The Labor Department revised the previous week’s figure to 307,000, from an initially reported 305,000.
The jobless claims report showed the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, dropped to 305,000 last week, the lowest level since May 2007.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits jumped by 104,000 to 2.93 million in the week ended Sept. 21. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
Those who’ve used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments increased by about 121,500 to 1.47 million in the week ended Sept. 14.
The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits rose to 2.3 percent in the week ended Sept. 21 from 2.2 percent.
Twenty-four states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 39 reported a decline. These data are reported with a one-week lag.
Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and typically wane before job growth can accelerate.
Figures released yesterday by the ADP Research Institute showed private employers added 166,000 workers in September following a revised 159,000 rise in August that was smaller than initially estimated. The median forecast of 40 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 180,000.
Retailers are announcing plans to add workers for the holiday shopping season. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, is hiring 55,000 seasonal employees, a 10 percent rise from 2012. The company also will move 35,000 workers to full-time status from part-time, and another 35,000 to part-time from temporary.
Macy’s Inc., the largest U.S. department store chain, plans 83,000 holiday hires, up from about 80,000 last year. Kohl’s Corp. will take on about 53,000 workers for the holiday season, similar to last year.
While the number of federal workers who apply for jobless benefits will appear in a separate category, employees who are dismissed by government contractors as a result of the shutdown will show up.
United Technologies Corp., a supplier of helicopters and jet engines to the U.S. military, said an extended government shutdown would force furloughs of as many as 5,000 workers.
The first effect will be layoffs for about 2,000 Sikorsky Aircraft employees in Connecticut, Florida and Alabama on Oct. 7, United Technologies said yesterday. They may be followed by 2,000 furloughs at Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems if the shutdown lasts into next week, the company said.
The total “could exceed 5,000 employees if the government shutdown continues into next month,” United Technologies said in a statement. The Hartford, Connecticut-based company receives about 18 percent of its revenue from the government, Chief Financial Officer Gregory Hayes told analysts this week.