Nearly 4.4 million Americans received unemployment benefits in the week that ended Aug. 17, the latest period for which figures are available. That's about 70,000 fewer than the previous week. A year ago, 5.5 million Americans were receiving benefits.
Many of the jobs created in recent months have been lower-paying, part-time positions in industries such as hotels, restaurants and retail. Higher-paying industries such as manufacturing and construction have mostly shed jobs since spring.
But some signs indicate that hiring in both industries could pick up. A private survey released Tuesday showed that factory activity grew last month at the fastest pace in more than two years. And manufacturers added jobs, though at a slower pace than in the previous month.
Spending on U.S. construction projects, meanwhile, rose to its highest level in more than four years in July. It was spurred by strength in both housing and commercial building.
The economy expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, a modest pace but much faster than the 1.1 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year. Home construction and business investment spending were two key drivers of growth.
Many economists think growth is slowing to about a 2 percent annual rate in the current July-September quarter.
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