Published: May 27, 2010 10:57 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of newly laid off workers filings claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week but the level still remained higher than expected, indicating only modest improvements in the job market.

Applications for unemployment befits fell by 14,000 to 460,000 last week. Economists had expected the level would fall further to 455,000. The decline came after claims had risen by a revised 28,000 in the previous week, the largest gain in three months.

The latest level of claims is slightly higher than it was at the start of the year, underscoring that the nation's workers are still facing tough times even though the overall economy is growing again after enduring the worst recession since the 1930s.