New unemployment claims barely improve

@CNNMoney June 30, 2011: 9:47 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits slipped only slightly last week, falling short of economists' expectations for a bigger drop.

There were 428,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended June 25 -- 1,000 fewer than the week before, the Labor Department said.

It marked the 12th straight week initial claims have stayed above the 400,000 mark -- and was worse than the 420,000 claims economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected.

"Another week, another disappointing U.S. initial claims report," Jennifer Lee, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets said in a note to investors.

Lee pointed out that claims have been hovering at a level that offers little confidence that the job market's recovery picked up substantially in June. Slower auto manufacturing following Japan's earthquake could still be taking its toll, she said, and will hopefully let up later this summer.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, calculated to smooth out volatility, increased to 426,750, up 500 claims from the week before.

Fewer jobs for unemployed workers

Continuing claims -- which include people filing for the second week of benefits or more -- fell to 3,702,000 in the week ended June 18 -- also falling short of economists' forecasts for 3,700,000 ongoing claims.

California, New Jersey and Florida saw claims rise the most in the week ending June 18, the most recent data available.

Meanwhile, Ohio saw the biggest drop in unemployment claims, with 2,769 fewer people filing claims in that state. Illinois and New York followed, each with drops of 2,000 or more.

The Labor Department will release its closely watched monthly jobs report next Friday, detailing how many jobs the U.S. economy created in June.

May's report showed the economy added a disappointing 54,000 jobs that month -- far too low to bring down the unemployment rate. To top of page

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