US weekly jobless claims have continued to decline, falling a modest 9,000 to 363,000 last week, the Labor Department says.
New claims for unemployment insurance benefits in the week to October 27 - an indicator of the pace of layoffs - came in below the four-week moving trend of 367,250.
The report comes just before Friday's October jobs data, the last broad snapshot of the economy before next week's presidential election.
Economists believe the numbers will show a slight uptick in the jobless rate to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent in September.
The still-weak job market has been a top issue for voters during the campaign.
Applications for unemployment have fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 since January. During that time, employers have added an average of about 150,000 jobs a month. That's reduced the unemployment rate from 8.3 per cent in January to 7.8 per cent in September.
The economy picked up slightly this year with growth rising to a 2.0 per cent annual rate in the July-September quarter, up from 1.3 per cent in the April-June quarter.
Consumers and the federal government spent more, and the housing market contributed to growth for the sixth straight quarter.
Still, the economy is growing too slowly to rapidly bring relief to roughly 12 million out-of-work Americans. With the unemployment rate still high, steady growth of more than 3.0 per cent is generally needed to create a sufficient number of jobs.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 per cent in September. That's the first time the rate has been below 8.0 per cent since January 2009, President Barack Obama's first month in office.The rate fell because a government survey of households found a huge increase in the number of people who had jobs. Still, a jump in part-time employment accounted for most of the gain.