) -- The number of first-time jobless claims for state unemployment benefits grew higher last week and suggested continued weakness in the the labor market, according to a government report released Thursday morning, while investors await a more comprehensive read on the jobs picture due Friday.
Initial claims rose by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 for the week ending July 31, the Labor Department said. According to consensus projections provided by
, new claims were expected to edge lower to 455,000 from the prior week's pre-revised 457,000 tally.
The average of new claims over the past four weeks also climbed by 5,250 to 458,000, while the number applicants continuing on jobless benefit roles fell to 4.537 million from 4.571 million.
The Labor Department is set to release its latest July report on the state of unemployment. It's expected employers shed 87,000 jobs from nonfarm payrolls during the month, though private sector employers likely added 82,500 jobs during that period. The unemployment rate is also expected to edge higher to 9.6% from 9.5% in June.
--Written by Sung Moss in New York