Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless claims declining to 240,000 in the latest week.
Jobless claims for the prior week were revised up to 242,000 from 241,000. It was the 121st consecutive week that claims have been below 300,000, the threshold associated with a strong labor market.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 2,750 to 242,250 last week.
The unemployment rate in May declined to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent. A Labor Department official said there were no special factors influencing the claims data. Only claims for Louisiana were estimated.
Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 6,000 to 1.95 million in the week ended June 17.
The so-called continuing claims have now been below 2 million for 11 straight weeks, indicating diminishing labor market slack.