Initial filings for unemployment benefits declined slightly last week though they were consistent with a drift higher in layoffs that began in the spring, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Jobless claims totaled 250,000 for the week ended Aug. 13, down 2,000 from the previous week and below the 260,000 Dow Jones estimate.
The four-week moving average for claims, which helps smooth out weekly volatility, also fell by 2,750 to 246,750.
Earlier this year, claims had hit their lowest level in more than 50 years, but began moving higher in April after bottoming at 166,000. The four-week moving average has risen during that time by nearly 80,000.
Continuing claims, which run a week behind…