There was a 34,000-increase in the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, the Employment and Training Administration reports.
It says 386,000 people filed claims, up from 352,000 the week before. "The 4-week moving average was 375,500, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 377,000."
After soaring to above 650,000 a week in early 2009, the pace has fallen — but has been stuck in a range from roughly 360,000 to just under 400,000 for the last 10 months. Economists say claims have been another in a series of signs that the economy continues to produce jobs.
In addition, according to Bloomberg News:
"Determining whether the labor market is improving or deteriorating has been more difficult in recent weeks because a reduction in the number of auto-plant layoffs typical at this point of the year has thrown the Labor Department's seasonal adjustment process out of line. It may take weeks to judge whether the labor market is making substantial progress."