Applications for U.S. unemployment insurance declined last week by more than forecast, underscoring a persistently tight labor market.
Initial unemployment claims decreased by 8,000 to 210,000 in the week ended May 21, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a drop to 215,000.
Continuing claims for state benefits rose to 1.35 million in the week ended May 14.
Initial claims remain at a historically low level, pointing to a strong labor market with few dismissals. That said, the Federal Reserve has started to raise interest rates to rein in exceptionally high demand in the economy, which could slow hiring or lead to layoffs later this year.
After a big increase in claims in the prior period, the drop in applications may assuage concerns that a cooling in labor demand has already set in.
The data comes ahead of the government’s May jobs report, which is forecast to show a drop in the unemployment rate when released next week.
On an unadjusted basis, initial claims decreased to 183,927 last week.
California and Kentucky, which posted some of the largest increases in the prior period, reversed to show a drop in claims last week. Illinois also registered a sizable decline.