The number of initial jobless claims filed last week remained essentially flat with the prior week, once again staying higher than 400,000. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Oct. 22 decreased by 2,000 to 402,000 from 404,000 the previous week, which was revised upward 1,000. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 405,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 394,000 and 410,000. Most economists believe weekly jobless claims lower than 400,000 indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. Initial claims dropped to 391,000 at the end of September, but have remained elevated for the majority of 2011. The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, rose by 1,750 claims to 405,500 from the prior week's revised 403,750. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Oct. 15 fell to 2.9% from a revised 3%, according to the Labor Department. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Oct. 8 declined to 6.68 million from 6.7 million the prior week. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw.