The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits dropped last week to 334,000, a decrease of 12,000 and fewer than the number analysts were expecting.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S on average expected claims for the seven days ended Saturday to drop to 345,000, just 1,000 below the previous week's adjusted figure of 346,000. Instead, the Labor Department estimates a 12,000 drop.

For the seven days ended June 8, the four-week moving average was 345,250, a decrease of 7,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 352,500. By comparison, during the comparable week last year there were 382,000 first-time claims filed.

The new figures suggest that companies have not been in a hiring push but have refrained from firing or laying off workers in order to maintain their current numbers.