Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 42,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, the US Labor Department said yesterday, unwinding a jump in the prior week that appeared related to difficulties adjusting the data for seasonal variations. That was the largest weekly drop since mid-November.
Claims are now back at the lower end of their range for this year.
Data for the week ended 30 March was revised to show 3,000 more applications than previously reported.
Economists had expected first-time applications to fall to 365,000 last week.
“We have seen considerable improvements in this series, and the labour market, particularly when it comes to layoffs,” said Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Services.
US stock index futures edged higher on the report, while the dollar trimmed some losses against the yen.