Initial jobless claims edged up 2.6% (8,000 new claims) to 312,000 for the week ending May 31, according to a Labor Department report released today,but longer-term metrics continue to point to a steadily improving labor market.

After dropping a revised 7% the previous week, this newest report clocked in ever-so-slightly above analyst expectations of a total 310,000 initial claims. 

Source: Author, data from Labor Department 

From a more long-term perspective, however, a 0.7% decline in the four-week moving average to 310,250 initial claims in the most recent week marks its lowest reading since June 2007. This is also the fourth straight report in which the four-week moving average has declined. Both the latest week's claims and the four-week average fall significantly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.

On a state-by-state basis, five states recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ended May 24 (most recent available data). Michigan claimed the largest drop, citing fewer layoffs in the wholesale trade industry as a primary reason for its 6,680-initial-claim decline. 

For the same period, only New York registered an increase of more than 1,000 initial claims. The Empire State noted that food services, construction, and education layoffs all contributed to its 1,350-claim- bump.