NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits fell last week, but was still above expectations, as the the job market struggles to pull out of its slump.
There were 423,000 initial unemployment claims filed in the week ended Sept. 17, the Labor Department said Thursday, down 9,000 from the prior week's upwardly revised 432,000, which was the highest level of new claims since late June.
The figure was higher economists' forecasts for 418,000, according to consensus estimates from Briefing.com.
Since the start of April, initial claims have sat above 400,000 all but one week. Economists often say that the level indicates hiring is still too weak to bring down the unemployment rate, which is currently at 9.1%.
Overall, the four-week moving average of initial claims -- calculated to smooth out volatility -- rose by 5,000 to 421,000 in the latest week.
Continuing claims -- which include people filing for the second week of benefits or more -- decreased by 28,000 to 3,727,000 in the week ended Sept. 10, the most recent data available. That was slightly below economists' forecasts for 3,730,000 ongoing claims.
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