The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, but a gauge of underlying labor trends fell for a fifth straight week, government data showed on Thursday.


A man looks at the jobs and other announcements posted at The Work Place, which provides comprehensive employment and career services, in Boston, Massachusetts July 2, 2009. (REUTERS / Brian Snyder)

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 584,000 in the week ended July 25. The four-week moving average for new claims, considered to be a better gauge of underlying trends as it smoothes out week-to-week volatility, fell by 8,250 to 559,000.

This was the lowest level since late January. The weekly moving average has declined for five straight weeks.

A Labor Department official said the trend in claims was now back to where it would have been without July distortions caused by the timing of auto plant shutdowns.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new claims rising to 570,000 from a previously reported 554,000.

The number of people staying on the benefit rolls after collecting an initial week of aid fell by 54,000 to 6.20 million in the week ended July 18, the latest week for which the data is available. This was the lowest since early April and marked the third straight week that this measure had declined.

The insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.7 percent.