Jobless claims hit a 7-year low by Ben Geier @FortuneMagazine May 15, 2014, 11:44 AM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons FORTUNE — U.S. jobless claims hit a seven-year low last week, with just 297,000 people filing for unemployment benefits, down 24,000 from the week before, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. This is the lowest number of new filers since May 2007, before the financial crisis, when 297,000 people also filed for unemployment during the week of May 12. The four-week average number of new claims is 323,250. There were no special factors this week that might have led to the precipitous drop, according to the Labor Department. However, claims in Pennsylvania and Texas rose by more than 1,000 — officials cited increased layoffs in various industries, including construction and transpiration.