NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Initial filings for unemployment insurance fell to the lowest level in nearly three months last week, an encouraging sign ahead of the government's highly anticipated monthly jobs report due Friday.
The number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits fell to 445,000 in the week ended Oct. 2, down 11,000 from the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The number was lower than economists' forecasts of 455,000 for the week, according to consensus estimates by Briefing.com.
But the government also revised the previous week's figure slightly upward to 456,000.
The last time initial claims ticked below 450,000 was during the week ended July 10.
But overall, the weekly number has been stuck in a tight range since last November, hovering in the mid to upper 400,000s and even ticking slightly above 500,000 in mid-August.
Economists say they're looking for initial claims to fall to 400,000 or lower before they can say a jobs recovery has made noteworthy progress.
On Friday, the government will issue its closely watched monthly jobs report. Economists polled by Briefing.com forecast the report to show the economy added no jobs in September, and that the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.7% from 9.6% in August.
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