While recent reports show that the U.S. job market seems to be cooling, at least one metric is encouraging: the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week.

Initial jobless claims decreased by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000 in the week ended Oct. 3, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 273,000 new claims last week. Claims for the prior week were revised down by 1,000, to 276,000.

Thursday’s report is encouraging after the Labor Department said last week that employers added 142,000 jobs in September and 136,000 in August — a slowdown from nearly 250,000 added monthly, on average, during the prior 18 months, the WSJ said. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.1% in September, but that partially reflected Americans dropping out of the labor force.

Jobless claims touched a 40-year low in the week of July 18, and have hovered just above that level in recent months. Most economists say this is consistent with growing employment, the WSJ said.

The four-week moving average of claims fell by 3,000 to 267,500 last week. The number of continuing unemployment benefits claims rose by 9,000 to 2,204,000 in the week ended Sept. 26.

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