The number of new people signing up for unemployment benefits climbed by 14,000 last week to 315,000, slightly more than what economists had been expecting.
The more stable four-week moving average of new jobless claims, which smoothes out week-to-week volatility, came in at 313,750 last week, nearly unchanged from a week earlier.
Among the observations from individual states, New York said it saw a dropoff in construction, service and transportation layoffs, Michigan experienced fewer layoffs in the auto industry, North Carolina saw fewer layoffs in the construction, textile, primary metals, lumber/wood, and industrial machinery sectors, and South Carolina and Wisconsin said they experienced fewer layoffs in manufacturing.
On Friday, the government will report its widely watched nonfarm payrolls report, including the nation's overall unemployment rate. After June's disappointing increase of just 121,000 additional jobs, economists are expecting a gain of about 150,000 new jobs.
The Federal Reserve will meet next week, and for the first time in many meetings there is serious question as to whether central bankers will bump up rates by another quarter percentage point. While recent data have pointed to some evidence of a slowing economy, other indicators show a troubling uptick in inflation, which may force the Fed's hand.