New claims for US unemployment benefits were unchanged last week from the week before amid a slowly recovering jobs market, official data showed Thursday.
Initial jobless claims totaled 370,000 in the week ending May 12, matching the previous week's upwardly revised figure, the Labor Department said.
The flat reading broke a two-week series of declines in the closely watched new claims numbers that signal the pace of layoffs, and missed analyst expectations of a much smaller 365,000 reading.
A downward trend in new claims was confirmed in the four-week moving average at 375,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the prior week.
Jobs, or the lack of jobs, is a key worry for the fragile US recovery as incomes are crimped, curbing the consumer spending that drives about 70 percent of the nation's economic growth.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in April as hundreds of thousands dropped out of the labor force, and only 115,000 jobs were created, the lowest number in six months.