Jobless claims dipped 3,000 in the week ending Sept. 11, the Department of Labor said. The revised figure for the previous week was 453,000.
Analysts polled by Reuters forecast claims rising to 460,000.
Still, at this slow rate of hiring, it will take years for the U.S. economy to recover the more than 8 million jobs lost since the financial crisis began.
The four-week moving average, a clearer measure of unemployment trends, fell 13,500 to 464,750. The revised average for the previous week was 478,250.