WASHINGTON — More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the labor market is making little progress.
Jobless claims were unchanged at 370,000 in the week ended May 12, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a drop in claims to 365,000. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls rose, while those receiving extended payments decreased.
The claims figures, reflecting dismissals, may raise concern payrolls will fail to pick up after employers in April added the fewest number of jobs in six months. The lack of a sustained rebound in hiring damps the outlook for consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s largest economy.
“Stable claims really aren’t good enough,” David Sloan, a senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York, said before the report. “We’re in a deep hole and we need growth to pick up to bring down the unemployment rate. Our overall sense of the labor market is that employment isn’t growing very rapidly.”
Estimates ranged from 360,000 to 375,000. The Labor Department revised the previous week’s figure up to 370,000, from an initially reported 367,000.
The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, fell to 375,000 last week from 379,750.
There was nothing unusual in last week’s claims data and no states were estimated, a Labor Department spokesman said as the report was released to the press.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 18,000 in the week ended May 5 to 3.27 million.
The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
Those who’ve used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments decreased by about 68,000 to 2.97 million in the week ended April 28.