Existing home sales in the U.S fell in August and jobless claims around the nation fell last week, sending mixed signals at the early stages of the nation's economic recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that single family, townhomes condominiums and co-op sales fell 2.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.10 million units in August but still 3.4 percent above last year’s 4.93 million units sold in the same month in 2008. Sales had risen 15.2 percent in the previous four months.

NAR economist Lawrence Yun attributed the year-over-year improvement the government’s first-time buyer tax credits.

“Some of the give-back in closed sales appears to result from rising numbers of contracts entering the system, with some fallouts and a backlog contributing to a longer closing process, but the decline demonstrates we can’t take a housing rebound for granted,” Yun said.

However in another sign that the economy is stabilizing, the number of people filing for government unemployment insurance claims fell last week.

Jobless claims fell by 21,000 to 530,000 for the week ending September 19, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Thursday.

The 4-week moving average was 553,500, down 11,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

The drop in claims may mean employers are starting to slow the rate at which they are cutting jobs. The unemployment rate, which currently stands at 9.7 percent, is still expected many economists above 10 percent next year.