The less volatile four-week running average fell to 345,250, down 7,250 from the previous week's average of 352,500.
Only twice this year have initial claims been lower—for the last week of April and first week of May. Before that, the last time claims were lower was in January 2008. Many analysts had expected to see a rise in claims because of the federal budget sequester, but so far that obviously hasn't happened.
In both state programs and the federal emergency compensation program begun because of the recession, the total number of people claiming compensation for the week ending May 25 was 4,515,445, down 129,863 from the previous week. For the comparable week of 2012, there were 5,827,210 persons making claims. The decline in claims is partly because some people have gotten jobs and partly because some have exhausted their eligibility for the programs.
Some states have reduced how long a person can collect compensation from the 26 weeks that was standard for half a century to 20 or even fewer weeks. Some have also reduced the maximum amount of each compensation paycheck. Because of the budget sequester, federal emergency compensation checks have been reduced at least 10 percent.