May 09, 2013 01:36 PM EDT

Jobless Claims at Five-Year Low

Jobless claims hit the lowest level since January 2008 the week ended May 4, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.

The report noted that layoffs have returned to pre-recession levels, a trend that could lead to more hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average dropped 6,250 to 336,750. That the fewest since November 2007, one month before the Great Recession began.

"There is only so much companies can cut layoffs before they have to start thinking about adding to headcounts," said Guy Berger, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. according to Bloomberg news, who projected claims would drop to 325,000 last week. "The longer this continues, the more likely companies will have to add to headcounts."

Thursday's relatively good news follows last week's word that the nation's unemployment rate edged down to 7.5 percent in April.

Only four of 37 economists surveyed said the stronger-than-expected jobs reported reduced their fears of an economic slowdown later this year, according to USA Today. Economists say Washington's deficit-cutting efforts that have resulted in government spending cuts and higher taxes in 2013.

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