In the latest worrying sign for the economy, the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits spiked last week--the second straight week it has done so.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 474,000, an increase of 43,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said. In the last two weeks, the number has risen by a total of 78,000.
The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility in the data, rose to 431,250.
Last week, the government reported that the economy grew by just 1.8 percent in the first three months of this year. And yesterday, we learned that private-sector firms added a disappointing 179,000 jobs in April.
The government's monthly jobs report, which includes both private- and public-sector employment, is due out tomorrow.