July 8 (UPI) -- More than 370,000 workers in the United States have filed new unemployment claims, the Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday -- slightly higher than most experts predicted.
The department said 373,000 workers filed initial claims last week, an increase of 2,000 claims over the previous week. It's the second straight week new claims were below 400,000.
Last week, there were 364,000 new claims, which were the fewest since the pandemic began affecting the economy more than a year ago. Thursday's report also increased that figure by 7,000 claims.
Most economists predicted the new report would show about 350,000 claims.
While the new jobless claims are still low for the COVID-19 era, they remain significantly higher than the average of about 220,000 that were filed weekly before the economic downturn.
The department said there are 3.34 million continuing claims, which lag initial claims by a week.
"Employment is still on a strong upward trajectory," Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, told The Wall Street Journal. "Demand for labor is very strong."
Thursday's report is the first since the department issued its June jobs report last week, which showed 850,000 new payrolls were added for the month.