There were 397,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, down 9,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.
Bloomberg News says the dip signals "limited progress in the labor market." Reuters thinks it suggests "a modest improvement in the still-moribund labor market."
There have been a few signs recently that the economy may be on slightly firmer footing — most notably, word that gross domestic product grew at an estimated 2.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter.
We'll get more data Friday when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its figures on the October unemployment rate and, hopefully, job growth. The nation's jobless rate was an estimated 9.1 percent in September.