New US jobless claims fell slightly last week but still remained above 400,000, official data showed Thursday.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 422,000 in the week ending May 28, a decrease of 6,000 from the prior week, the Labor Department said.
The decline was weaker than the average analyst estimate of 413,000 claims.
The four-week moving average, which smoothes volatility, fell by 14,000 claims to 425,500 last week.
Claims have remained above 400,000 since early April as a fragile economic recovery fanned employers' fears to hire.
A series of glum data has suggested the frail economic recovery is stalling, leaving growth well below the pace needed to make a dent in high unemployment.
Payrolls firm ADP's report Wednesday added to the gloom, showing the nonfarm private sector added a measly 38,000 jobs in May, well below the consensus estimate of 170,000 jobs.
The ADP report sent economists scrambling to cut their forecasts for the Labor Department's employment data Friday. The consensus estimate for the net nonfarm jobs created in May was slashed to 169,000 from 185,000.
The unemployment rate, determined by a separate household survey conducted by the Labor Department, was seen holding unchanged at 9.0 percent from April.