Initial claims in regular state programs decreased by 38,000 to 406,000 in the week ended May 22, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 425,000 applications.

The decrease in claims underscores the labor market recovery is chugging along as vaccinations accelerate and remaining pandemic restrictions are eased. Hiring is expected to continue to pick up in the coming months as more Americans travel and socialize.

Claims data have been volatile during the pandemic due to backlogs, fraud and new programs. Also, multiple states have recently announced plans to pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs amid a debate about whether the aid is making it more difficult for employers to hire workers.

Read more: Governors Halt $300-a-Week Extra Jobless Pay and Stoke Debate

Washington, New Jersey and Florida led among states with the biggest declines last week, Thursday’s data show.

Continuing claims for ongoing state benefits declined in the week ended May 15.

(Updates with chart)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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