The number of workers seeking first-time jobless aid fell by 10,000 last week, a government report on Thursday showed, signaling a relatively healthy job market.

The Labor Department said the number of initial jobless claims declined to 312,000 in the week ended Aug. 12 from a revised 322,000 in the prior week. That was moderately lower than the 315,000 claims that analysts had forecast in a Reuters poll.

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Previously, the department said there had been 319,000 claims in the prior week ended Aug. 5 but it revised that figure upward.

Since early June, new claims have been fluctuating in a narrow range from 297,000 to 322,000. The claims total spiked upward briefly in early July during the automobile industry's annual summer shutdown but has settled back into its earlier range.

The four-week moving average, considered a more reliable barometer of employment conditions because it irons out weekly fluctuations, rose to 311,250 in the Aug. 12 week from a revised 309,500.

The number of workers remaining on state unemployment benefits for the week ended Aug. 5, the latest period such figures were available, hit 2,507,000 up from 2,473,000 in the preceding week.

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