More Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, showing companies are less confident about the expansion than they were earlier this year.
Applications for jobless benefits increased 9,000 in the week ended June 18 to 429,000, Labor Department figures showed today. The level of claims exceeded the highest estimate in a Bloomberg News survey in which the median projection called for 415,000 filings. The number of people on benefit rolls was little changed, while those getting extended payments rose.
Unemployment claims have swelled after dropping to an almost three-year low at the end of February, indicating businesses may be reluctant to hire until demand strengthens. The data underscore Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s comment yesterday that job growth is “frustratingly” slow, a reason policy makers pledged to maintain monetary stimulus.
“The numbers still remain elevated, and they’re still consistent with a labor market that’s improving at a glacial pace,” said Brian Jones, an economist at Societe Generale in New York. “This fits in with Bernanke’s view that the labor market improvement is just not enough.”
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