WASHINGTON -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week as the economy showed continued signs of modest job growth.There were 367,000 new jobless claims for the week ending Saturday, up from a revised 363,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday.The less-volatile four-week average remained at 375,000, a level that economists say is consistent with a moderate increase in new jobs. Analysts had expected about 370,000 jobless claims last week.The new figures come after initial unemployment claims dropped sharply the previous week to a two-month low. That figure -- 359,000 -- was revised up by the Labor Department.
Economic readings in recent days indicated job growth in September would be similar to August's disappointing 96,000 figure. The unemployment rate for August was 8.1 percent.The Labor Department will release the September jobs report Friday morning."I expect the report to show that the labor market remained sluggish in September, with an increase in nonfarm payrolls of only about 100,000 and an uptick in the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent," said Stephen Oliner, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute think tank.His forecast is consistent with other economists. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg is for job growth of 115,000 and an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported Wednesday that employers added 162,000 private sector jobs last month, down from a revised 189,000 in August.Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management reported this week that the manufacturing and service sectors grew at a faster rate in September than in the previous month.