Initial jobless claims inched down 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 for the week ending May 4, according to a Labor Department report released today. These newest numbers are the lowest yet for the recovery period, and mark the third straight week of new claims decreases. The results also managed to beat analyst expectations of a slight 3.4% bump to 335,000 new claims.

Source: Author, data from Labor Department 

The four-week moving average also fell for the third time in as many weeks, down 1.8%, to 336,750. Both the most recent week's number and the moving average clock is solidly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.

On a state-by-state basis, 10 states recorded decreases of more than 1,000 in their initial jobless claims for the week ending April 27 (most recent available data). California continued its claims drop this week, with 3,720 less claims (no comment provided by state), while Michigan reported 2,990 less as a result of "fewer layoffs in most industries."

For the same week, only Illinois and Oregon recorded initial claims increases of more than 1,000. In Illinois, the 1,740 bump in initial claims was primarily due to manufacturing and construction layoffs, while Oregon provided no details alongside its 1,240 increase.