New claims for US unemployment insurance continued to fall last week despite signs that businesses have sharply cut back hiring, Labor Department data showed Thursday.
Initial jobless claims, a sign of the level of layoffs, dropped by 4,000 to 264,000 in the week ending June 4.
It (Other OTC: ITGL - news) was the fourth straight week that claims fell from a surge in late April-early May, and the 66th consecutive week of claims below 300,000, the longest stretch since 1973.
Claims have averaged 269,500 over the past four weeks, 8,250 lower than the year-ago average.
Analysts have been eyeing claims for signs of a pickup after the sharp slowdown in job creation in May.
At just 38,000 net new positions, the May level was the worst in nearly six years and barely one-quarter of what had been expected, sparking worries that a strong run of employment generation might be ending.