27 Jun 2009

US jobless figures rise

11:00 am on 27 June 2009

Fresh signs of weakness in US job markets on Thursday underlined the strains faced by the US economy that contracted slightly less in the first quarter than previously thought.

The Labor Department said the number of US workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week jumped unexpectedly by 15,000 to a higher-than-forecast, seasonally-adjusted total of 627,000.

Continued claims, which gauge how many Americans were still on jobless rolls after an initial week of claims, rose 29,000 to 6.738 million in the week ending 13 June.

The worse-than-expected jobs data outweighed a Commerce Department report showing gross domestic product, the gauge of total output within US borders, contracted at a 5.5% annual rate in the first quarter instead of 5.7%.

That followed contractions in national output of 6.3% in last year's fourth quarter and 0.5% in the third quarter.