The number of unemployment aid applications fell slightly last week, suggesting only a modest improvement in the job market.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly applications dropped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 404,000.
Experts say those numbers need to fall below 375,000 to signal sustainable job growth.
Still, some are optimistic about Thursday's jobs data.
"Three consecutive weeks of claims around 400,000 are somewhat reassuring, as they suggest that layoffs remain contained despite high uncertainty in the economy," Guy Berger, senior economist with RBS, told Reuters.
"We continue to expect moderate growth rather than a recession, but in the latter scenario claims would be among the earliest signals of a contraction in the labor market," he said.