Applications have fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 since January. At the same time, employers have added an average of nearly 150,000 jobs a month. That's barely enough to lower the unemployment rate, which has declined from 8.3 percent to 7.8 percent this year.
A third report Thursday showed the housing recovery may be cooling off. The National Assocation of Realtors index of sales agreements showed the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose only slightly in September from August. That suggests sales may level off in the coming months after solid gains in the past year.
Signed contracts are up 14.5 percent from a year ago.
Housing is rebounding after a six-year slump. New home sales jumped last month to the highest annual pace in two and a half years. And builders broke ground on new homes and apartments at the fastest pace in more than four years in September.This year will likely be the first time in six years that housing contributes to overall economic growth.