Jobless claims have slowed, dropping by 21,000 to 323,000 in the week ended Nov. 16. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a to drop to 335,000.
This is close to the five-year lows hit in late summer.
But the fall might have been exaggerated due to the Veterans Day holiday, and some are uncertain whether the positive news still reflects seasonal behavior. Others believe it shows progress toward an uptick in the job market.
Holiday sales might be one reason employers are holding onto staff to meet rising sales demand. Economists and investors expect a competitive holiday season.
While week-to-week measurements fluctuate, larger economic data points to mixed readings of the news. Hiring for October remained tepid, growing by 204,000 jobs. This was stronger than expected but not strong enough to significantly lower unemployment.
The Federal Reserve reported it is committed to lowering the unemployment rate from 7.3 percent to 6.5 percent before scaling back its extensive monetary policy.