(CNN) - The job market may be showing signs of subtle improvement, as fewer Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week.
About 397,000 people filed for their first week of unemployment claims in the week ending Oct. 29, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number of claims fell 9,000 from the revised 406,000 in the prior week.
With initial claims have been stuck at or around the 400,000 level since early April, it's not a remarkable improvement.
But economists say looking over a longer time frame, the new figures do show some encouraging signs for the economy. The four-week moving average of initial claims dipped 2,000 to 404,500.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for their second week of claims or more fell to 3,683,000, down 15,000, in the week ending Oct. 22, the most recent week available. It was the lowest level since April.
The latest data won't appear in October's jobs report, which the government is scheduled to release Friday.
Economists expect it to show the U.S. economy added 98,000 jobs in October, fewer than the 103,000 jobs added the month before. The unemployment rate is expected to remain at 9.1 percent.