More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the labor market is taking time to improve.
Jobless claims fell by 1,000 to 388,000 in the week ended April 21 from a revised 389,000 the prior period that was the highest since early January, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a drop to 375,000.
Fewer layoffs are needed to lay the groundwork for more hiring, which in turn should support consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy. Federal Reserve policy makers yesterday said that while labor-market conditions have improved, the unemployment rate â€œremains elevated,â€ helping explain why they stuck to a plan to hold borrowing costs close to zero through 2014.