The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid last week inched down but still remained elevated, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.
The Labor Department said that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 404,000 in the week ending Oct. 8, a decrease of 1,000 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.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which more closely watched claims figure, also declined to 408,000. That is the lowest level in eight weeks.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 1 was 3.67 million, a decrease of 55,000 from one week earlier.
U.S. nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 jobs in September, but unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent for the third straight month. Economists said that more jobs are needed to bring down the unemployment rate.
The weekly figures of jobless benefits application reflect the level of layoffs and indicate the real-time condition of the American job market.