U.S. filings for unemployment benefits fell more than forecast last week to a two-month low, reflecting volatility that's typical around periods with holidays, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Initial claims decreased by 18,000 to 214,000 (estimates were for 225,000); the lowest level since the week ending May 5.

initial claims

Continuing claims fell by 3,000 to 1.74 million in the week ended June 30 (data reported with one-week lag).

Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 223,000 from the prior week's 224,750.

Seasonal adjustments to the claims data tend to be more difficult during and around weeks with holidays, especially if this year's timing of Independence Day on a Wednesday spurred Americans to take longer vacations.

At the same time, the trend is consistent with other data — such as the unemployment rate, vacancies and quitters — signaling a solid labor market where employers are reluctant to part with workers. The weekly claims figures have been gradually declining in the last year and remain near the lowest level since 1969.

The prior week’s reading was revised to 232,000 from 231,000. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits was unchanged at 1.2%.

Hawaii and Maine estimated claims last week, according to the Labor Department.

Bloomberg News