Jobless Claims Post Surprising Decline of 18,000

The number of US workers filing claims for initial jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, according to a report Thursday that suggested the labor market, while soft, was not deteriorating rapidly. (Video: Analysis of the weekly jobless claim numbers)


First-time jobless claims fell to 365,000 in the week ended May 3 from an upwardly revised 383,000 for the prior week, the Labor Department said.

"I don't think the overall picture has changed very much, " said David Sloan, an economist for 4CAST LTD in New York. "The picture is not very good but it doesn't seem to be getting dramatically worse."

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the number of new claims at 370,000, compared with the originally reported 380,000 in the week ended April 26.

Financial markets showed little reaction to the jobless claims figures.

The four-week moving average of new claims, considered by economists a more reliable gauge of labor trends because it irons out weekly volatility, rose to 367,000 in the week ended May 3 from 364,500 in the previous week.

The number of people who remain on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid fell 10,000 to 3.02 million in the week ended April 26, the latest period for which figures were available.