June 14, 2012 at 8:46 AM ET
New claims for unemployment aid rose unexpectedly in the latest week, signaling that the labor market remained on the defensive and the recovery was stumbling along.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that claims rose a seasonally-adjusted 6,000 to 386,000 in the week ended June 9. Even the four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, jumped, gaining 3,500 to 382,000. It was the measure's third straight week of gains.
Economists had been expecting new claims to drop to 375,000.
"We've been on the higher side for the past two months on average. You cannot explain this away with normal random volatility. It has not been a marked deterioration, but there has been some slippage in the strength in the labor market," Michael Moran, chief economist for Daiwa Securities, told Reuters.
The report was another in a series of setbacks for those seeking an improvement in the job market. Among them: President Barack Obama who is running for reelection and needs the economy's cooperation in his battle against his GOP rival Mitt Romney.
The rise in jobless claims over the past few weeks suggests that hiring has slowed and the pace of layoffs has quickened as U.S. businesses react warily to a sluggish recovery at home and the financial crisis in Europe.