The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to sustained strength in the labor market despite a sharp slowdown in hiring last month.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000 for the week ended June 4, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims rising to 270,000 in the latest week. Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong job market, for 66 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1973.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 7,500 to 269,500 last week.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data. Only claims for Maryland were estimated.