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 today in Washington. 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.
“This is just a steady moving along, claims are not getting worse at least,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, a U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York, who correctly projected the number of claims. “We need to see more hiring. We don’t see that happening yet.”
Stock-index futures were little changed after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in June was at 1,322.6 at 8:47 a.m. in New York, up less than 0.1 percent, depressed by a report that Moody’s Investors Service will downgrade Spanish banks intensified concern that Europe’s debt crisis is worsening.
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.
The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits, which tends to track the jobless rate, held at 2.6 percent, today’s report showed.
Thirty-one states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 21 reported a decrease. These data are reported with a one-week lag.
Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth — measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report — accelerates.
Last week included the 12th of the month, which coincides with the period the Labor Department uses in its survey of employers to calculate monthly payroll growth. The employment report for May will be released on June 1.
The four-week average for this month’s survey week was little changed from the 375,500 during the corresponding period in April, indicating little improvement in labor-market conditions.
Payrolls in April climbed 115,000, the smallest gain in six months, while the jobless rate unexpectedly fell to a three-year low of 8.1 percent as people left the labor force, the Labor Department said on May 4.
Federal Reserve officials last month affirmed their plan to hold interest rates near zero at least through late 2014 as they seek to push down an unemployment rate that has topped 8 percent for more than three years. Forecasts released by the central bank in April showed it expects joblessness to fall to 7.8 percent to 8.0 percent by the final three months of this year.
Among participants of the Fed’s April 24-25 meeting, “most anticipated a gradual decline in the unemployment rate,” according to minutes of the gathering released yesterday. The outlook reflected a “moderate pace of economic growth.”
Companies trimming their workforce include Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA unit, which plans to cut 900 jobs as part of a new round of cost savings as the carrier restructures. The job losses are a second set of reductions after the Bellevue, Washington-based company said on March 22 it would eliminate 1,900 jobs tied to the closing of seven call centers.
Some companies are expanding staff to meet rising demand for cars. Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA (F), is accelerating plans to increase output at a sport- utility-vehicle plant in Detroit, hiring 1,100 workers in November instead of early 2013. Ford Motor Co. (F) and Hyundai Motor Co. also will add shifts at U.S. factories this year.