Applications for jobless benefits fell by 26,000 for the week ending May 3, bringing the total to 319,000, down from last week’s revised figure of 345,000, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

This is the first time in two weeks that this figure has declined.

The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, increased by 4,500 to 324,750, up from last week’s revised figure of 320,250.

There were no unexpected factors that affected this week’s unemployment benefits number, the government said.

“With the impact of the holiday fading, applications are returning to pre-recession levels. The average for April was 312,000, the fewest since October 2007. The recession officially began in December 2007,” the Associated Press reported.

“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0 percent for the week ending April 26, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate of 2.1 percent,” according to the report. “The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 26 was 2,685,000, a decrease of 76,000 from the previous week’s revised level.”

“The previous week’s level was revised down by 10,000 from 2,771,000 to 2,761,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,715,250, a decrease of 16,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 22, 2007 when it was 2,700,000. The previous week’s average was revised down by 2,500 from 2,734,000 to 2,731,500,” it added.

The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 26 were New York (+23,523), Massachusetts (+3,983), Rhode Island (+1,080), Oregon (+959) and Delaware (+956).

Meanwhile, Michigan (-6,642), New Jersey (-2,269), Pennsylvania (-1,704), Maryland (-1,670), and California (-1,237) posted the largest decreases in initial claims.

Markets are poised to open slightly higher Thursday:

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