Unemployment claims dip in U.S. with fewer layoffs

The number of Americans making new claims for unemployment benefits is dropping, pushing the four-week average for jobless assistance to a five-year low and signaling that the U.S. labor market might be stabilizing.

The U.S. government said Thursday that 340,000 unemployed workers made new claims for financial aid last week, a drop of 7,000 from the week before.

That pushed the four-week average down to 348,750, the lowest total since March 2008, in the early stages of the country’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Fewer claims for benefits usually mean that employers are curtailing worker layoffs.

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