Fewer Americans filed for new unemployment benefits in the latest week, as the U.S. labor market continues to slowly improve. PA

Fewer Americans filed for new unemployment benefits than last week, indicating that the slow-but-steady improvement in the U.S. labor market is continuing apace.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000. In addition, the previous week's jobless number was revised downward now that 3,000 more applications have been reported since last week.

The Labor Department's jobless number beat analysts' forecast for 351,000 new claims last week by about 12,000, Reuters reports.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a less volatile measure of labor market trends, also fell 4,500 to 357,500.

It was unclear whether there was any impact in the claims data from a brief shutdown of offices in Boston area last week as police hunted for a man suspected of helping plant bombs at the Boston Marathon, according to Reuters. State authorities asked hundreds of thousands of Boston-area workers to stay in their homes on April 19.

Also, continuing claims declined by 93,000 to 3.00 million. A sustained decline in continuing claims would also reflect and improving job market. A year ago, continuing claims totaled 3.45 million.