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Jobless Claims Drop to 323K Ahead of August Jobs Report

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims wrapped up the month of August by falling to 323,000 last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.

For the week ending Aug. 31, the number of people filing for benefits dropped by 9,000.  The previous week, claims stood at 332,000.

The four-week average also went down, decreasing by 3,000 to 328,500.

Americans will get a better picture of how the jobs market fared last month when the Labor Department releases its monthly employment report at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday.

On Thursday, payroll company ADP released a survey showing that 176,000 jobs were added in August -- in line with the sort of gains the economy has seen so far this year.

"The ADP numbers were consistent with the kind of job growth we've been getting over the past several months, over the past couple of years," Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, told ABC News Radio. "The job gains were broad based across industries and in company sizes and in fact I think this is the first time we've been doing it that job gains were registered in every major industry."

Small business employment, in particular, was a big part of August's increase. "The big companies are still doing relatively well, adding consistently but the small guys are also starting to kick in adding consistently to payroll and this is something that wasn't going on a couple or three years ago so that's a positive development," Zandi said.

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