The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was unchanged last week at a seasonally adjusted 374,000, suggesting slow improvement in the job market.
The Labor Department says the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, increased to 370,250.
Applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they fall consistently below 375,000, it generally suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
Unemployment applications have risen slightly over the past three weeks. Last week's number was revised upward to 374,000 from the 372,000 that was reported initially. That was its second straight increase.
Still, applications are lower than they were six weeks ago. That raises hopes for a solid gain when the government releases its August jobs report next Friday.