The number of Americans seeking jobless benefits dipped below 300,000 a week for the first time in seven years, though the change was driven largely by two states that changed their computer systems and were unable to fully process their filings.
Between Aug. 31 and Sept. 7, the total number of people on jobless benefits dropped from 323,000 to 292,000, according to Labor Department data released Thursday. A government spokesperson told the Associated Press that one large and one small state had upgraded their computer systems last week and that the change was "not necessarily an indication of a change in labor market conditions."
"In the case of states where they can't report or are unable to report, we do an estimation process, which has been done in the past routinely," Labor Department Spokesman Jason Kuruvilla told the Wall Street Journal. However, if a state does provide a report, the agency will take the state's word regardless of how faulty the figures may be.
The Department of Labor reported 7.3 percent unemployment in August, the lowest since December 2008. The less-volatile four-week moving average of unemployment claims fell to 321,250 last week, its lowest levels since 2007, suggesting the cycle of aggressive layoffs during the recession have subsided. More than 2 million people were added to the labor force last month, according to a separate Labor Department report.