Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs are dropping and employers may be hiring more workers.
The Labor Department says the number of people seeking benefits dropped 10,000 to 382,000 in the week ending April 2. That’s the third drop in four weeks. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, declined to 389,500.
Applications near 375,000 are consistent with a sustained increase in hiring. Applications, which reflect the pace of layoffs, peaked during the recession at 659,000.
The number of people seeking benefits has fallen for several months. The four-week average has dropped by 28,750, or nearly 7 percent, in the past eight weeks. At the same time, businesses are stepping up hiring.