The number of U.S. workers filing initial jobless claims was 521,000 last week, the smallest figure since early January as the total number of people receiving benefits stands at more than 6 million.

Total initial unemployment insurance claims were down by 33,000 for the week ending October3.

The broader 4-week moving average trend was also down 9,000 to 539,750 for the week ending October 3.

At the beginning of the recession in December of 2007, there were 2.6 million people receiving unemployment benefits. That figure more than doubled to 6.04 million.