Workers wait in line to attend a job fair in New York. (Justin Lane / EPA )
WASHINGTON -- The labor market is looking a little better than last week's disappointing jobs report for April.
The government said Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits edged lower last week to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 -- down 1,000 from the prior week. That's a second straight week of declining claims, suggesting that the abrupt and worrisome increase in jobless filings in the first three weeks of April was an aberration.
The latest claims data are just shy of the nearly four-year low of 361,000 recorded in early February. Using a less volatile measure, new jobless filings over the last four weeks ending May 5 averaged 379,000 a week -- a decline of 5,250 from the prior week's four-week moving average.
All in all, Thursday's report from the Labor Department suggests that the job market probably isn't as dour as last week's report showing a second straight month of mediocre job growth in April. New jobless filings signal layoff trends, and analysts were encouraged by the latest data.
The report also showed that about 6.4 million people were drawing unemployment checks as of the week that ended April 21. That's down from 8 million a year earlier.
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