WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. workers filing initial claims for jobless aid fell a bigger-than-expected 4,000 last week, government data showed Thursday, underscoring a steady labor market.
First-time applications for state unemployment insurance benefits dropped to 310,000 in the week ended May 26, from an upwardly revised 314,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.
Wall Street analysts were expecting a slight decline in claims to 310,000 from an initial reading of 311,000 in the week ended May 19.
The closely watched four-week moving average of initial jobless claims, which flushes out weekly fluctuations, inched up to 304,500 from 303,500 the prior week.
The number of people remaining on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid fell 52,000 to 2.47 million in the week ended May 19, the latest period these figures were available.
The jobless claims data came a day before the department releases its May employment report. Analysts are expecting that report to show an additional 130,000 new jobs were created in May, enough to keep the jobless rate unchanged at 4.5 percent.