NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Fewer new filers applied for state unemployment insurance last week, according to a government report released Thursday, ahead of Friday's much anticipated monthly jobs report.

Initial jobless claims fell modestly by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 444,000 for the week ending May 1, the Labor Department said. The drop landed around expectations, as consensus forecasts provided by called for a fall to 440,000 from the prior week's pre-revised 448,000 total.

The moving average for new filers over the past four weeks also fell by 4,750 to 458,500, while the number of filers continuing on jobless benefit roles also declined to 4.594 million from 4.653 million.

The week is a big one for labor market data. On Wednesday, Automatic Data Processing (ADP) - Get Report said private-sector employers added 32,000 jobs to payrolls in April. Challenger, Gray & Christmas also reported that planned layoffs fell to a near four-year low last month.

(ADP) - Get Report Job statistics culminate on Friday when the Labor Department releases its April labor market assessment. Though the nation's unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 9.7%, employers probably added 187,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls last month.

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