Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 13,000 in the May 23 week to 623,000, below analysts’ expectations, according to data released by the Labor Department Thursday.

A Market News International survey had expected the initial claims level to rise to 635,000 this week from the originally reported 631,000 in the May 16 week.

The expectations ranged from 620,000 to 640,000. The initial claims seasonally adjusted four-week average declined 3,000 to 626,750.

In the May 16 week, continuing claims marched upwards to yet another record high for the 17th consecutive week, rising 110,000 to 6.788 million.

Continuing claims were 3.102 million in the comparable week a year ago.

— Market News International

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