June 21, 2012 at 8:44 AM ET
New claims for unemployment benefits declined slightly in the latest week, but remain at levels which raise concerns that employers are gradually reducing staff in the face of economic uncertainty.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that new jobless claims dropped a seasonally-adjusted 2,000 to 387,000 from a upwardly revised 389,000 the prior week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 380,000 last week.
The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of labor market conditions, surged 3,500 to 386,250, which is a six-month high.
"This confirms the weak labor market we have. This is another disappointing number," Wells Fargo senior economist Sam Bullard told Reuters.
The job market has been struggling recently as employers face a slew of uncertainties, including a stumbling U.S. recovery, fiscal deadlock in Washington and a financial crisis in Europe.
The Federal Reserve warned Wednesday that businesses had slowed hiring. The central bank ratcheted down its projections for economic growth in 2012 and extended a program known as "Operation Twist" aimed at pushing down long-term interest rates to aid the economy.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said there had been a great deal of new developments since the Fed’s last meeting in April and that a lot of the incoming data were “disappointing.”