NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits dropped sharply for the second straight week.
In the week ended May 14, 409,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said Thursday.
That marked a decline of 29,000 from the 438,000 initial claims filed the week before, and was an even lower level than the 420,000 claims economists had expected for the week.
The number of initial claims has fallen sharply for two straight weeks, after one-time adjustments related to schools on spring break severely distorted the number. Since then, initial claims have retraced those steep gains, falling back to levels they were at about a month ago.
"We are back to where we were one month ago," Jennifer Lee, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets said in a research note.
Economists expect initial claims to fall back below the 400,000 level next week, showing continued gradual improvement in the job market.
The number of Americans filing for ongoing claims rose 13,250 to 3,756,000 in the week ended May 7, the latest data available.