WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. workers signing up for unemployment aid edged down slightly last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday in a report underscoring stability in the labor market despite sluggish growth.
The numbers of U.S. workers signing up for first-time unemployment benefits slipped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 309,000 for the week ended June 2.
"The core story here, though, remains that companies are not laying people off at the sort of pace that would normally be expected given the slowdown in economic growth. We are very curious to see if this can persist as consumption slows markedly in the face of the surge in gas prices," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.
Economists polled ahead of the report were expecting initial jobless claims to remain unchanged at 310,000 from the prior week.
The four-week moving average, which irons out weekly fluctuations in this data, moved up to 307,250 from 304,500.
Financial markets showed little reaction to the data as they focused on the U.S. Treasury bond market, where the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield broke above 5 percent on the prospect of higher global interest rates.
The dollar gained support from rising U.S. yields, while the yen slipped against the dollar after reports that North Korea fired short-range missiles triggered broad-based buying of the U.S. currency.
U.S. stock index futures fell, indicating a lower open on Wall Street.
Meanwhile, in the Labor Department report, the number of workers remaining on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid rose by 72,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.54 million for the week ended May 26, the most recent week these figures were available.