New jobless claims by American workers rose to 637,000 in the past week, the Labor Department reported on May 14, in a sign of continued caution by U.S. business in the face of a weak economy.
The agency said new claims in the week to May 9 rose by 32,000 from the revised level of 605,000 in the previous week.
The figure was worse than the level of 610,000 new claims expected by private economists, and according to officials was due in part to a shutdown of some automobile production factories, idling many workers.
A Labor Department official said the shutdown by Chrysler after its bankruptcy filing April 30 caused a rise in claims, including from auto parts suppliers.
The weekly initial claims data, a snapshot on the labor market, has shown new claims above the 600,000 level for three months as the country grapples with a severe recession but is down from a peak of 674,000 in late March.
The four-week moving average, which smoothes out volatility, rose to 630,000, from a revised 624,000 in the preceding week.
The latest monthly snapshot showed the unemployment rate rose to 8.9% in April with 539,000 jobs lost.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009