Jobless claims remain close to 3-month high

LOS ANGELES — The number of Americans filing for jobless claims barely moved last week, leaving more unemployed workers applying for benefits than analysts had expected.

With 338,000 workers filing first-time claims during the week ended Saturday, according to the Labor Department, hopes for heady improvement in the labor market continue to shrink.

Though that's 1,000 fewer applications than during the earlier week, initial unemployment benefits still are hovering around a three-month high last reached in January.

The four-week average, which is less unstable than the week-by-week count, rose to 381,750 last week from 375,500. Reports this week have predicted an easier summer job market for teens; the Federal Reserve now projects the unemployment rate easing to as low as 7.8 percent by the end of the year from the current 8.2 percent.

But the overall employment picture remains volatile. Large companies such as American Airlines and JPMorgan Chase and possibly government branches such as the Army are still reducing head counts.

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