A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by more than expected in the week ended May 22nd.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slid to 406,000, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 444,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 425,000.

Jobless claims decreased for the fourth consecutive week, once again falling to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

The report showed the less volatile four-week moving average also fell to its lowest level in over a year, dropping to 458,750 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 504,750.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment benefits, also slumped by 96,000 to 3.642 million in the week ended May 15th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims edged down to 3,675,000, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 3,677,750.

“While the recovery in the labor market may be uneven at times, the declines in both initial and continuing claims are a clear sign that progress is ongoing,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics.

Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of May.

Economists currently expect employment to jump by 621,000 jobs in May after climbing by 266,000 jobs in April. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent.

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