New claims for US unemployment benefits fell last week in a fresh sign that the ailing job market is slowly recovering, official data showed Thursday.
Initial jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 370,000 in the week ending May 19, the Labor Department said.
The prior week's number was revised upward by 2,000, leaving claims hovering in neutral, indicating a pause in layoffs.
The latest trend numbers showed a faster improving situation. The four-week moving average was 370,000, down 5,500 claims from the previous week.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in April as hundreds of thousands dropped out of the labor force, and only 115,000 jobs were created, the lowest number in six months.
High unemployment is a key obstacle in the fragile US recovery, weighing on the consumer spending that drives about 70 percent of the nation's economic growth.