US weekly claims for unemployment insurance remained at a high 400,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as business and government layoffs persisted while new job creation remained weak.
The figure, for the week to July 30, was virtually the same as the previous week's 401,000 (revised from 398,000). But on a four-week moving average, they were on a slight downward trend, the data showed.
The total number of people across the country receiving unemployment insurance payments was 7.57 million in the middle of July, the Labor Department said, about 1.1 million less than a year earlier.
The total number of unemployed -- those both receiving and not receiving jobless benefits -- was 14.1 million, according to figures for June.
The jobless claim numbers came a day before the government releases its total job creation and national unemployment figures for July, on Friday.
Those figures are expected to confirm that the economy continued at a near-stalled pace during the month, as governments at all levels continued to pare workforces under budget-cutting pressure while businesses stayed cautious about hiring.
Economists expect the total unemployment rate to remain at 9.2 percent, and the average estimate for net new jobs created is 84,000, not even keeping pace with the growth of the working age population.