The Labor Department announced on Thursday that the number of Americans filing first time unemployment benefit claims fell by 23,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 340,000 last week.
A four-week rolling average of jobless claims fell by 500 to 339,500. The rolling average is close to the 338,000 it registered during the first week of May, a five-year low, USA TODAY noted.
During the week that ended May 4, in excess of 4.7 million Americans drew some form of jobless benefits. While the nation’s unemployment rate has declined to 7.5%, the number of jobs available in the U.S. is still still lower — by 2.6 million jobs — than it was before the advent of the recession in 2008.
The current unemployment benefit claims data suggests that employers are laying off fewer employees, rather than strong hiring.
Earlier this month, the government said that private employers had added 165,000 workers in April, topping the 140,000 new hires expected by economists.