WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. workers claiming an initial week of jobless aid tumbled by 35,000 last week, far more than expected, to the lowest level in two months, a government report showed Thursday.
First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 302,000 in the week ended June 3, from an upwardly revised 337,000 claims in the previous week, the Labor Department said.
Wall Street economists had forecast initial claims would fall to 325,000 from an initially reported 336,000.
The initial claims figure was the lowest since the week of April 1, when it reached 301,000. It was the largest one-week drop in initial claims since September 2005, when they fell by 65,000.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors to account for last week's decline, but noted that the week included the Memorial Day holiday.
The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths weekly fluctuations to provide a better picture of labor market trends, fell to 327,750 from 333,500 the previous week.
The number of people who continued to file for benefits after receiving an initial week of aid fell by 5,000 to 2.415 million in the week ended May 27, the latest for which that data is available. Wall Street had forecast a drop to 2.424 million.