The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 2,000 to 314,000.
The average has fallen 9 percent since the beginning of this year. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the declines indicate that companies are cutting fewer jobs.
The figures come a day after the government said the economy shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, the worst reading since early 2009, when the U.S. was mired in the depths of the recession. By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABERBy CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER AP Economics WriterCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.