By Vicki Needham - 07/22/10 03:35 PM EDT
Unemployment numbers have hovered around 450,000 for the past several months, showing no real downward movement, which is needed to push along the recovery.
Economists argue that jobless claims need to drop into the low 400,000s or high 300,000s to reflect stronger job growth in the private sector.
The four-week moving average, which smoothes out the volatility of the weekly number and provides a better gauge of the employment situation, was 456,000, a increase of 1,250.
The numbers of Americans continuing to claim benefits increased by 223,000 to 4.5 million.
That number doesn’t include about 3.9 million people who received extended unemployment benefits during the week of July 3, the latest data available.
That figure fell by about 375,000 from the previous week because Senate Republicans had blocked an extension of long-term jobless benefits for six weeks. Federal benefits expired June 2.
The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday to extend the benefits through November, and the House is poised to pass a bill today.
President Obama is expected to quickly sign the bill, providing benefits retroactively to the more than 2.5 million Americans who have lost their benefits since early June.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified Wednesday that he expects unemployment to slowly decrease this year but at a slightly slower rate than expected. The rate is likely to remain above 9 percent — between 9.2 and 9.5 percent — for the rest of 2010.