By Vicki Needham - 07/29/10 03:07 PM EDT
The four-week moving average, which provides a better gauge of the employment situation, was 452,500, the lowest level since May.
Unemployment numbers have hovered around 450,000 for the past several months, showing no real downward movement, which is needed to push along the recovery.
Economists argue jobless claims need to drop into the low 400,000s or high 300,000s to reflect stronger job growth in the private sector.
The number of Americans continuing to claim benefits increased by 81,000 to 4.57 million. That doesn’t include an additional 3.67 million who are receiving federal extended benefits.
Requests for unemployment benefits have fallen steadily from a peak of 651,000 in March 2009.