The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits remained at pre-recession levels last week but growth in the massive U.S. service sector cooled in September as firms took on fewer new workers.
The data could provide some of the strongest guidance this week on the health of the U.S. economy as a partial government shutdown delays the release of other data, including the monthly employment report that was scheduled to be released on Friday.
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Initial claims for state unemployment benefits edged up by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 308,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
That was still fewer than seen before the 2007-09 recession, a signal that the long cycle of elevated layoffs has ended. New jobless claims have been falling for much of this year