New claims for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000 from the previous week to 298,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists had expected Americans to file 300,000 claims during the week ended Saturday, according to FactSet.
The prior week's claims were revised up 1,000 to 312,000.
The four-week average for benefit applications, a less volatile measure, increased by 4,750 to 300,750. That number, however, is still relatively low and at prerecession levels.
The job market has shown signs of improvement lately. In July the U.S. added more than 200,000 net new jobs for the sixth-straight month, a streak not seen since 1997.
The recent labor market improvement has led some members of the Federal Reserve's policy committee, worried about inflationary risks, to argue the central bank should raise interest rates sooner than planned.