The four-week running average, which flattens volatility in the weekly numbers, was 363,750. That's 5,500 down from the previous week's revised average of 369,250.
In all jobless benefit programs, federal and state, the total number of people makes continuing claiming for the week ending July 28 was 5,680,545. That's down 69,782 from the previous week. That doesn't mean, however, that an extra 70,000 got jobs, however. Many out-of-work Americans are exhausting their benefits. Some of those continue to look for employment, but many drop out of the labor market altogether and are no longer counted in the unemployment numbers even though they may still want jobs.
Meanwhile, housing starts took a 1.1 percent drop in July, the Commerce Department announced. They were on an annualized pace of 746,000. The numbers dropped "unexpectedly," reports say. That's a word used a whole lot about economic statistics of various sorts over the past four years. It's a worrisome sign made worse by the fact that previous figures on starts for June and May were both revised down:
There were also some positive signals in Thursday's report. New permits for building homes rose 6.8 percent in July to a 812,000 unit pace, the highest rate since August 2008.The low point for annualized housing starts was 478,000 in April 2009. The average over the past half century, beginning in 1959, has been 1.5 million new houses a year.
But in the readings on groundbreaking of new homes, the government revised lower its estimates for recent months. Starts during June was revised down to a 754,000-unit pace from a previously reported 760,000-unit rate. Mays reading was also revised lower to a 706,000-unit pace.