U.S. unemployment applications flat at 374,000

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of people filing for their first week of unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, following three straight weeks of increases, the government said Thursday.

The Labor Department said 374,000 people filed first-time jobless claims in the week ended Aug. 25. That was slightly more than the forecasts of economists surveyed by Briefing.com. The previous week's reading was raised from the initially reported 372,000.

About 3.3 million received their second week or more of unemployment benefits during the week.

Next Friday, the Labor Department will report on the number of jobs and unemployment rate for August, the government's key economic reading of the month. The July report showed some renewed strength as employers added 163,000, the biggest jump in payrolls since February. But the unemployment rate rose to 8.3% in that report.