The number of U.S. people initially applying for unemployment aid last week fell but remained high, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.
The Labor Department said the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 403,000 in the week ending October 15, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised figure.
Fewer than 425,000 people applying for aid is consistent with modest job growth, but the number of jobless claims will have to fall to 375,000 or below to signal a sustained drop in the unemployment rate. The lack of employment growth is limiting consumer spending and restraining the recovery.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, the more closely watched claims figure, also declined to 403,000, its lowest level since April.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Oct. 8 was 3.72 million, an increase of 25,000 from one week earlier.
U.S. nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 jobs in September, but the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent for the third straight month. Economists said more jobs were needed to bring down unemployment.
The weekly figures of jobless benefits applications reflect the level of layoffs and indicate the real-time condition of the American job market.