Timothy R. Homan
Bloomberg News 
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) — More Americans than anticipated filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, a reminder that the labor market will take time to strengthen and may weigh on the economic recovery.
Initial jobless claims rose by 7,000 to 480,000 in the week ended Dec. 12, from a revised 473,000 the prior week, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance was little changed in the prior week, while those getting extended payments increased.
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Federal Reserve policy makers yesterday said weakness in the labor market is restraining consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s largest economy. Concerns over the lack of jobs prompted the central bank yesterday to reiterate a pledge to keep the benchmark interest rate low for an “extended period.”
“The level of new claims remains elevated,” said Steven Wood, president of Insight Economics LLC in Danville, California. “The labor market is improving, but remains soft.”
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