The number of Americans filing for jobless claims barely moved last week, leaving more unemployed workers applying for benefits than analysts had expected.
With 338,000 workers filing first-time claims during the week ended Saturday, according to the Labor Department, hopes for heady improvement in the labor market continue to shrink.
Though that’s 1,000 fewer applications than during the earlier week, initial unemployment benefits are still hovering around a three-month high last reached in January.
The four-week average, which is less unstable than the week-by-week count, rose to 381,750 last week from 375,500. Reports this week have predicted an easier summer job market for teens; the Federal Reserve now projects the unemployment rate easing to as low as 7.8% by the end of the year from the current 8.2%.
But the overall employment picture remains volatile. Large companies such as American Airlines and JP Morgan Chase and possibly government branches such as the Army are still reducing head counts.
As of the week that ended on April 14, California saw 3,060 workers make initial jobless claims, behind only New York’s 3,352. The state blamed major layoffs in the service industry.
Earlier this week, California officials warned that in three weeks, nearly 100,000 unemployed residents will lose up to 20 weeks of federal unemployment benefits.
Stocks still ticked up slightly, however, in morning trading.