There were 366,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up by 2,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.
"Claims have stayed in a range between 350,000 and 400,000 all year. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, has also varied little: it's low this year has been 8.1 percent and the high has been 8.3 percent."
Meanwhile, there's another sign that the housing market is on the mend. The Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development say that while there was a 1.1 percent declinee in housing starts in July from June, construction starts were up 21.5 percent from the July 2011 pace.