WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The number of U.S. people initially applying for unemployment aid last week continued to inch down, the fourth decline in six weeks, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday, but the level remains high.
The Labor Department said the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 402,000 in the week ending Oct. 22, a decrease of 2,000 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.
However, the four-week moving average, which is the more closely watched claims figure, rose slightly to 405,500. The figure had hit a six-month low two weeks ago.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Oct. 15 was 3.645 million, a decrease of 96,000 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 the unemployment rate.
Meanwhile, U.S. economic growth picked up the pace to 2.5 percent in the third quarter, the best quarterly performance since the start of this year, according to another report released Thursday by the Commerce Department.
The weekly figures of jobless benefits applications reflect the level of layoffs and indicate the real-time condition of the American job market.