Weekly Jobless Claims Rise for Fourth Straight Week

New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose last week for the fourth straight week, which could heighten concerns the labor market recovery is softening.

At the same time, a second reading on U.S. gross domestic product showed the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.9% in the first quarter, in line with economists' estimates, but slower than an initial estimate of 2.2%.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The prior week's figure was revised up to 373,000 from the previously reported 370,000. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims unchanged last week.

Claims have now risen in seven of the last eight weeks. Most of those increases were marginal and the overall level of claims has held at levels consistent with a modest recovery in the labor market.

But the steady increase could add to the concerns raised by April's disappointing 115,000 gain in nonfarm payrolls. A Labor Department report due on Friday is expected to show employers added 150,000 jobs in May.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labor market trends, increased 3,750 to 374,500.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the data but that results for five states, including California, had been estimated.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 36,000 to 3.24 million in the week ended May 19.

The number of people on extended benefits rose 12,479 to 312,434 in the week ended May 12, the latest week for which data is available.

There were 2.62 million Americans receiving emergency unemployment checks during that period, down 12,141 from the prior week.

A total of 6.14 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during the week ending May 12 under all programs, down 30,753 from the previous week.