WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dipped last week but not by enough to signal a better month of hiring in June.
Weekly applications for unemployment aid declined by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 387,000, the Labor Department said today. That’s down from an upwardly revised 389,000.
A more telling sign of the trend in unemployment benefit applications is the four-week average, which smooths week-to-week fluctuations. That rose for by 3,500 to 386,250, the highest level since December.
“After a fairly substantial period of constantly lower jobless claims, a new, more unwelcome trend higher has taken hold,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at BTIG LLC, in an email. “A meaningful pickup in monthly job additions looks unlikely.”
Applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. They have been edging up in recent weeks after falling steadily over the fall and winter. In the past six weeks, applications have increased nearly 5 percent. When applications fall below 375,000, it generally suggests hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.