US Jobless Claims Stay Near Three-Month High

Posted April 26th, 2012 at 9:50 am (UTC-5)
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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits held steady last week near a three-month high, a sign that new hiring in the world's largest economy may have slowed.

The government's Labor Department said Thursday that 388,000 jobless workers made new claims for financial assistance, down only slightly from the week before. The number of new claims for benefits had been dropping steadily earlier in the year. But the government reported hiring slowed in March and the trend may have continued throughout April.

The country's central bank said Wednesday that the American economy is growing moderately. The Federal Reserve said the 8.2 percent jobless rate recorded in March could dip below the 8 percent level by the end of the year and fall further by 2014.

But the U.S. recovery from its recession a few years ago — the worst in seven decades — has been marked by gains, and then setbacks. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been rehired since the downturn officially ended nearly three years ago, but the country has not come close to recovering all the jobs it lost.

The state of the U.S. economy has become the central issue in the country's presidential election campaign. The presumptive Republican nominee, one-time venture capitalist Mitt Romney, has sharply attacked President Barack Obama, a Democrat, for his handling of the country's economic fortunes. The president has cited the job growth as evidence the economy is on the right track.