The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, a level consistent with modest hiring trends.
The Labor Department says new applications rose by 4,000 from the previous week's level of 363,000. The previous week was revised higher from an initial reading of 359,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was unchanged at 375,000.
Unemployment benefit applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375,000, it typically indicates that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
Applications have mostly stayed near or above that level since the spring, coinciding with a weak stretch of hiring. The government reports Friday on September hiring and unemployment.
Economists predict employers added 111,000 jobs last month, only slightly more than the 96,000 jobs added in August. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in August. The rate has been above 8 percent for the past three and a half years.