New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits inched lower last week, government data showed Thursday in a report casting a cloud on the recovery in the labor market.
The Labor Department reported 386,000 initial jobless claims were filed in the week ended April 14, a decrease of 2,000 from the prior week. But the prior week's estimate was revised higher, to 388,000 from 380,000.
Most analysts had forecast that claims dropped to 375,000 last week.
The new claims numbers, indicating the pace of layoffs, came amid signs of a sputtering recovery in the job market, where the unemployment rate fell to 8.2% in March from 8.3% in February but businesses put the brakes on hiring.
The four-week moving average of new jobless claims rose by 5,500 to 374,750.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012