Initial unemployment filings declined unexpectedly during the week that ended May 4, 2013, falling by 4,000 from the previous week's 327,000 to 323,000, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That represents the lowest number of new weekly unemployment claims since January 2008. The four-week moving average for initial claims was 336,750, the lowest measure since November 2007, before the worst slump of the Great Recession. The four week moving average is widely held to be a stronger metric of overall employment market health since it levels out weekly extremes.

A slowdown in layoffs may signal that the economy may be headed for a period of increase corporate hiring. 

"There is only so much companies can cut layoffs before they have to start thinking about adding to headcounts," RBS Securities Inc. economist Guy Berger told Bloomberg. "The longer this continues, the more likely companies will have to add to headcounts."

The BLS data also noted the uptick in unemployment among federal employees. During the week that ended April 20, 2013 there were 18,726 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits, an increase of 531 from the previous week. Initial claims fell during the week that ended April 27, but only slightly from 1,447 to 1,364. 

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