Labor Pains Continue as Jobless Claims Rise

New claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting little improvement in the labor market this month after employment stumbled in May.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week's figure was revised up to 420,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims to edge up to 415,000 from a previously reported count of 414,000.

The claims report covers the survey period for the government's closely watched data on nonfarm payrolls for June.

Claims increased 15,000 between the May and June survey periods, implying little or no gains in nonfarm payrolls this month after a modest 54,000 increase in May.

The data is the latest in a series to underscore the weakness in the economy, which has persisted through the second quarter.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday acknowledged the slowdown, but generally perceived it as temporary. Although it cut its growth forecasts and downgraded its view of the labor market, it gave no indication of further monetary support.

The U.S. central bank confirmed it was winding up its $600 billion bond-buying program at the end of June.

A Labor Department official said technical problems had resulted in claims for six states being estimated last week.

The four-week moving average of new jobless claims, considered a better gauge of labor market trends, was unchanged at 426,250.

Initial claims have now been above the 400,000 mark for 11 weeks in a row. Analysts normally associate that level with a stable labor market.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid was little changed at 3.70 million in the week ended June 11.

Economists had expected so-called continuing claims to nudge down to 3.67 million from a previously reported 3.68 million.

The number of people on emergency unemployment benefits rose 5,728 to 3.30 million in the week ended June 4, the latest week for which data is available. A total of 7.54 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during that period under all programs.