Government data is expected to show that the number of newly laid-off people filing jobless benefit claims dipped slightly last week but remains at elevated levels due to the sluggish economy.
The Labor Department's tally of new claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending Sept. 5 is projected to fall by 4,000 from the prior week to a seasonally-adjusted level of 440,000, according to a survey of Wall Street economists by Thomson/IFR.
The data is scheduled to be released Thursday at 8:30 am New York time.
The number of people continuing to draw jobless benefits is expected to rise slightly to 3.46 million from 3.44 million.
Last week's figure of 444,000 was higher than analysts expected. It was followed the next day by the Labor Department's report that the unemployment rate jumped unexpectedly to 6.1 percent in August, the highest level in five years.
Employers cut payrolls by 84,000 in August, the eighth straight month of cuts, the report said. So far, 605,000 jobs have been eliminated this year, and some economists estimate that figure could grow to 1 million by year-end.
Initial claims above 400,000 are considered a sign of a recessionary economy. A year ago, claims stood at about 330,000.
GMAC Financial Services said last week that it will lay off 5,000 workers as part of a plan to scale back its mortgage lending. GMAC is majority owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management while General Motors holds a large stake.
The New York Times and tobacco company Reynolds American also announced layoffs earlier this week.