New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell more than expected in the past week, government data showed on May 7.
The Department of Labor said the number of initial claims for jobless benefits in the week ending May 2 dipped to 601,000, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 635,000.
But the total number of unemployed drawing jobless benefits hit a record high at 6.35 million, an increase of 56,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 6.29 million, the department said.
The unemployment rate in March rose to a 25-year high of 8.5% and analysts expect it to climb further.
Bernanke had said that businesses were likely to be cautious about hiring, also implying that the unemployment rate could remain high for a time, even after economic growth resumes.
The weekly initial claims data, a snapshot on the labor market, has shown new claims above the 600,000 level for nearly three months.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009