The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, moving back to near cycle lows as the labor markets remain healthy and the economy regains momentum after stumbling in the first quarter.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000 for the week ended May 21, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims falling to 275,000 in the latest week. Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong job market, for 64 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.
While the two consecutive weeks of decline helped to unwind some of the jump in claims between late April and early May, the trend in jobless claims has become less favorable.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 2,750 to 278,500 last week.