Jobless claims dropped by 24,000 to 297,000 in the week ended May 10, the least since May 2007, the Labor Department reported.
The median estimate of 49 economists surveyed was 320,000.
“The labor market continues to improve after some funkiness associated with the holidays,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe General. “The economy’s generally getting better.”
The prior week’s reading was revised to 321,000 from an originally reported 319,000.
The four-week average of claims, a less volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 323,250 from 325,250 the week before.
The number of people continuing to collect benefits declined by 9,000 to 2.67 million in the week ended May 3, the fewest since December 2007.