New claims for US unemployment insurance fell for a second week in a row last week, confirming that an early May surge was probably not a signal of weakness in the jobs market.
The US Labor Department said that initial jobless claims, a sign of the level of layoffs, dropped by 10,000 to 268,000 in the week ending May 21.
Two weeks earlier, new claims jumped to 294,000, the highest level since February 2014, raising fears that the steady tightening of the market for the past two years might ebb.
But analysts said that increase likely represented a statistical adjustment problem caused by an early Easter holiday.
Claims have now held below 300,000 for 64 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.
The claims data gave support to forecasts of a decent month of job creation in May after April's slowdown.
The Labor Department reports the May data on June 3, with the overall unemployment rate holding currently at a low 5%.