) -- The numbers of first-time filers for unemployment benefits dipped last week, but remained above the benchmark level of 400,000.

Initial jobless claims declined by 2,000 to 402,000 in the week ended Oct. 22 from a revised 403,750 in the prior week, according to a Labor Department report. The reading was better than Wall Street's forecast that claims would rise by 2,000 from the originally estimate 405,000 initial claims in the prior week.

Weekly initial jobless claims have hovered around 400,000, suggesting that the U.S. economy is far from seeing a turnaround in the jobs market. The unemployment rate currently sits at 9.1%.

The four-week moving average increased to 405,500 from 403,750. The average is often considered a better measure of trends in unemployment given that weekly initial claims can be volatile.

The number of continuing claims, a measure of Americans receiving jobless benefits for more than a week, dropped by 96,000 to 3.654 million in the week ended Oct. 15, slightly better than the consensus forecast for 3.7 million.

Lawmakers in Washington have attempted to stimulate the ailing jobs market with little success so far. Congress has rejected President Barack Obama's $447 billion plan to boost spending and cut taxes in order to spur employment. Lawmakers are currently taking up the proposal in pieces.

The unemployment rate likely held steady at 9.1% in October, according to Barclays Capital, which predicts an addition of 100,000 new jobs to the economy in October. The government's monthly jobs report is due out next Friday.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

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