Jobless claims article updated with comments.
NEW YORK (
) -- Weekly jobless claims ticked back above 400,000, suggesting that the U.S. jobs market has yet to see sustained improvement.
Some 401,000 Americans filed for unemployment in the week ended Oct. 1, according to the Labor Department. The latest update was up by 6,000 from the previous week's revised 395,000.
The four-week moving average slipped by 4000 to 414,000.
With the exception of the prior week's figure, initial jobless claims have stubbornly clung above the 400,000 mark since April of this year. The unemployment rate has remained above 9% since the spring of 2009.
According to Ian Shepherdson, economist at High Frequency Economics, Hurricane Irene may have driven claims up for some time. "Now they have fallen back to trend... For now, these numbers look good, though we can't be sure they'll stay that way given weak business confidence," writes Shepherdson.
Until initial claims stay below 400,000 and trend downward, economists are reluctant to say that the jobs market is recovering. After zero net job creation in August, indications for the September employment report, out on Friday, are mixed. Most economists predict that unemployment stuck around 9.1% and that the economy added around 60,000 jobs in September.
On Wednesday, Automatic Data Processing reported that U.S. companies added 91,000 jobs in September, up from the numbers of jobs added in August. The ADP estimate was a welcome prelude to this Friday's jobs report.
However, not all data on the jobs market point to improvement. Consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that companies plant to cut 115,730 jobs in September after announcing 51,114 layoffs in August. Monthly job losses have jumped to the highest level since April 2009.
-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.
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