WASHINGTON — The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the fifth straight decline.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average fell 5,750 to 344,000. The average has dropped 11 percent in the last year.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen back near prerecession levels this month, a sign that companies are firing fewer workers.