The number of US home owners in trouble has dropped for the first time in four years as the economy recovered from a brutal recession triggered by a mortgage meltdown, a property data company said today.

Foreclosure filings - default notices, auctions and bank repossessions - were reported on 333,837 properties in April, a 9% decrease from the previous month and a 2% decrease from last year, RealtyTrac said.

This was the first year-over-year drop since the company started tracking annual foreclosure rates in January 2006, nearly two years before the US plunged into recession resulting from a home mortgage crisis.

Some 92,432 properties were repossessed by lenders in April - an increase of 1% from the previous month and 45% from 2009.

Nevada, Arizona and Florida were hit hard by the mortgage crisis. Nevada posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the 40th month in a row, with one in every 69 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in April - more than five times the national average.

Separate figures showed that the number of US workers filing for jobless benefits fell only slightly last week, highlighting the challenges facing the labour market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 444,000, the Labor Department said, though the number was still slightly above the 440,000 expected by analysts. The previous week's figure was revised up to 448,000.