New claims for US unemployment benefits tumbled last week, suggesting an easing in layoffs, official data showed Thursday on the eve of highly anticipated June labor data.
The Labor Department reported 374,000 jobless claims were filed in the week ending June 30, down by 14,000 from the prior week's upwardly revised 387,250 claims.
The jobless claims number was significantly lower than the 385,000 reading expected by analysts.
In another positive reading on the troubled jobs market, the four-week moving average of claims dropped by 1,500 to 835,750.
Separately, payroll company ADP said the US private sector added 176,000 jobs in June, 29 percent more than in May and well above the consensus expectation of 105,000.
"In conjunction with the morning's upside surprise from ADP about net private-sector job creation in June, the lower initial jobless claims number... does bode well for strength extending into July," said Sara Kline at Moody's Analytics.
Kline said the decline in claims, after weeks of drifting higher, needs to be sustained to confirm a healthier trend in the jobs market, still battered three years after the United States exited the Great Recession.
"With the pace of job cuts generally improved from the height of the recession and closer to a level consistent with growth, it is a lack of hiring that remains the biggest hurdle for the labor market," she said.
On Friday, the Labor Department is expected to report the June unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent from May, and the world's largest economy added 100,000 jobs, after a meager 69,000 in the prior month.