WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless aid fell 12,000 last week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday, while so-called continued claims rose to a fresh record as the recession battered employment.
Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits declined to a seasonally adjusted 631,000 in the week ended May 16 from a revised 643,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. New claims have declined in three of the last four weeks.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 630,000 new claims versus a previously reported count of 637,000 the week before.
The most severe U.S. recession in decades has already cost over 5 million jobs since it began in late 2007, and despite some recent indications that employment conditions might be stabilizing, the labor market remains in dire shape.
The number of people staying on the benefits roll after drawing an initial week of aid increased by 75,000 to a more-then-forecast 6.662 million in the week ended May 9, the most recent week for which data is available. Analysts estimated so-called continued claims would be 6.65 million.
Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Neil Stempleman