WASHINGTON — Initial jobless claims decreased more than economists expected in the week ending June 19, falling 19,000 to 457,000 — the lowest level since the first week of May, the Labor Department reported yesterday. Continuing claims fell to 4.55 million for the week ending June 12. Economists had expected 464,000 initial jobless claims and 4.56 million continuing claims.

Initial claims for the week ending June 12 were revised higher to 476,000 from the 472,000 originally reported. The continuing claims figure for June 5 was revised upward to 4.593 million from 4.571 million.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less volatile figure, decreased to 462,750, the first drop in six weeks.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, described the decline in first-time jobless claims as a “relief” in a research note. Many of the new unemployment claims were made by repeat filers looking to get an extension on their unemployment insurance, rather than new job losers, she wrote, adding that no one knows the actual percentage of repeat filers.

“This is comforting in that it suggests that the labor market may be stabilizing” even more than initial claims would otherwise indicate, Swonk wrote.

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