The fewest Americans in seven years filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market continued to improve.
Jobless claims dropped by 24,000 to 297,000 in the week ended May 10, less than any economist projected in a Bloomberg survey and the least since May 2007, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 49 economists surveyed was 320,000.
Firings have been slowing, setting the stage for continued growth in employment and wages. While payrolls rebounded in April after the holidays and a weather-induced soft patch earlier in the year, many companies are proceeding with caution until they see a sustained pickup in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.
“The way the job market continues to improve, the number of people collecting benefits keeps going down,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe General in New York. “The labor market is fine.” Jones had the lowest forecast in the Bloomberg survey, at 303,000.
Stock futures remained lower after the report, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring next month declining 0.2 percent to 1,882.00 at 8:52 a.m. in New York.
Workers at a construction site in Simpsonville, Kentucky, on April 3, 2014.
Economists’ estimates in the survey ranged from 303,000 to 330,000. The prior week’s reading was revised to 321,000 from an originally reported 319,000.
No states were estimated last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, a Labor Department spokesman said as the figures were released to the press.