The number of Americans filing for unemployment aid fell from a 14-month high last week, the latest sign that the economy was regaining speed after stumbling in the first quarter.
Another report on Thursday showed factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region contracted further in May, although manufacturers continued to anticipate a pickup in activity over the next six months.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000 for the week ended May 14, the Labor Department said. That was the biggest drop since February and snapped a three-week string of increases.
Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong job market, for 63 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.