The number of people claiming jobless benefits for the first time dropped less than expected last week, evidence that the labor market remains weak even as the economy is recovering.
The Labor Department said Thursday its tally of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment insurance fell by 1,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 530,000. Analysts expected a steeper drop to 521,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.
The report comes the same day the Commerce Department said the economy grew at a 3.5 percent pace in the July-September quarter, snapping a streak of four straight quarters of decline. But the economy isn't growing quickly enough to spur much hiring.
Still, the four-week average of claims, which smooths out volatility, fell for the eighth straight week to 526,250, its lowest level since early January. Claims are slowly declining as companies lay off fewer workers.
Economists closely watch initial claims, which are considered a gauge of layoffs and an indication of companies' willingness to hire new workers.
The number of people continuing to claim benefits, meanwhile, dropped sharply by 148,000 to 5.8 million, a steeper drop than analysts expected. The figures on continuing claims lag initial claims by a week.
When federal emergency programs are included, the total number of jobless benefit recipients dropped by about 105,000 to 8.9 million in the week ending Oct. 10, the latest data available.