The Labor Department's weekly report on first-time jobless claims came in at 521,000, seasonally adjusted, for the week ended Oct. 3, a decrease of 33,000 from the previous week. The consensus Wall Street estimate was for a decline of 11,000.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, which aims to provide more stable data, was down 9,000 to 539,750.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 4.5% for the week ending Sept. 26, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate of 4.6 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Sept. 26 was 6,040,000, a decrease of 72,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 6,112,000.The 4-week moving average was 6,144,250, a decrease of 15,750 from the preceding .

The fiscal year-to-date average for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment for all programs is 5.677 million. States reported 3,321,210 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the week ending Sept. 19, an increase of 45,997 from the prior week. There were 1,140,558 claimants in the comparable week in 2008.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Sept. 19, not seasonally adjusted, were in Puerto Rico (6.1%), Oregon (5.3%), Nevada (5.2%), Pennsylvania (5.0%), California (4.9%), Michigan (4.8%), Wisconsin (4.7%), Arkansas (4.6%), North Carolina (4.6%), and South Carolina (4.5%).The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Sept. 26 were in California (+4,467), Ohio (+3,421), Illinois (+1,815), Missouri (+1,049), and Tennessee (+1,048). The largest decreases were in New York (-2,253), North Carolina (-1,609), South Carolina (-1,159), Arkansas (-818), and Florida (-734).