The four-week average of initial claims – a better gauge of unemployment trends – rose 1,750 to 459,000, the third straight increase.
Monthly figures set for release Friday morning could show the economy added 515,000 jobs in May, although a significant number of those will probably come from temporary federal government hiring for the Census. Private sector payrolls are expected to show continued expansion.
Job growth needs to average around 400,000 a month to chip away at the 9.9 percent unemployment rate.
Continuing jobless claims for the week ended May 22, increasing 31,000 to 4.67 million, while the four-week average increased by 9,750 to 4.65 million.