Layoffs are becoming a rarity in the United States.

The Department of Labor reported Thursday that claims for unemployment benefits fell to 289,000. That drop brought the four-week average down to 294,000.

That's the lowest average since 2006.

Relative to the size of the labor force, it's the lowest four-week average of jobless claims ever recorded, beating out the red-hot months at the height of the tech bubble in early 2000.

That is an indication of how much layoffs have slowed since the depths of the recession in 2009.

People become eligible for unemployment benefits by being laid off. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has tracked layoffs and firings since 2000. Their statistics show that layoffs have been plumbing new lows since early 2013.

In May, the most recent month for which data is available, there were only 1.6 million layoffs or firings, compared to the roughly 1.9 million average during the 2001-2007 economic expansion.

Although the labor market remains deeply damaged by the recession and net job creation remains relatively slow, the problem has been weak hiring and generally slow labor market "churn" rather than people losing their jobs.