First-time claims for jobless benefits fell last week to aone-month low, helping allay concern that the labor market maysuffer an extended setback.

Jobless claims dropped by 1,000 to 367,000 in the period endedMay 5, in line with the median forecast in a Bloomberg News surveyand the lowest since the end of March, the Labor Department saidtoday in Washington. The number of people on unemployment benefitrolls was the smallest since July 2008.

The data indicate the surge in claims in the first three weeksof April was probably tied to the timing of the Easter holidayrather than a deterioration in employment. Further declines indismissals would point to ongoing improvement in the job market,helping sustain household purchases after payrolls cooled lastmonth.

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