The number of Americans filing initial claims (search) for jobless aid dipped 1,000 last week, due in part to fewer claims from autoworkers and other manufacturers, the government said on Thursday.

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell to 312,000 in the week ended July 30, the Labor Department said. Wall Street (search) economists had expected claims to move up to 315,000 from the original reading of 310,000 reported for the prior week.

A Labor Department (search) analyst attributed the decrease in claims to fewer layoffs in the automobile, auto-related and other manufacturing sectors.

A four-week moving average of claims, which smooths weekly volatility to provide a better sense of underlying job-market trends, also fell, dropping to 316,750 from 319,000 for the previous week. That took the four-week average to the lowest level since late February.

In another upbeat sign for the labor market, the number of people who remain on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid fell 18,000 to 2.58 million in the week ended July 23, the latest date for which data are available.