The latest unemployment numbers from the Labor Department show applications for benefits are down only slightly.
According to Thursday's report, applications for jobless aid declined by 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 402,000, the fourth drop in six weeks.
But experts say the decline is still not enough to suggest hiring is picking up. Applications need to fall below 375,000 to signal sustainable job growth.
The Labor Department report also showed that layoffs were at their lowest level since spring.
Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics, called the news "a very welcome development in the context of the steep decline in business confidence."
"Businesses are not happy about the economy, but neither are they in panic mode," he said.