The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell for a third straight week last week, government data showed on Thursday, indicating some loss of force in the pace of the labor market's deterioration.
Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 621,000 in the week ended May 30, the Labor Department said. The week covered the Memorial Day holiday, which could have had an impact on the data.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new claims slipping to 620,000 from a previously reported count of 623,000.
The number of people staying on the benefit rolls after collecting an initial week of aid fell 15,000 to 6.74 million in the week ended May 23, the latest week for which the data is available.
This was the first time that so-called continued claims have declined since the week of January 3 and was also the first time in 17 weeks that they did not set a record. That held the insured unemployment rate at 5.0 percent.
However, the four-week moving average for new claims, considered to be a better gauge of underlying trends as it smoothes out week-to-week volatility, rose 4,000 to 631,250 in the week ending May 30.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)