WASHINGTON – The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits remained stuck near a three-month high last week, a sign that hiring has likely slowed since winter.
The Labor Department says weekly applications dipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000. That’s little changed from the previous week’s figure, which was the highest since Jan. 7.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to 381,750, also the highest in three months.
Applications jumped sharply three weeks ago, a sign that employers had stepped up layoffs and added fewer jobs. Economists said the increase might have been inflated by temporary layoffs during the spring holidays, when many school employees are laid off.
But applications haven’t dropped back since then. The increase follows a report earlier this month that showed hiring slowed in March.