Initial jobless claims inched higher last week and have remained well above 400,000 since early April. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended June 4 rose to 427,000 from 426,000 the previous week, which was revised upward by 4,000 claims. Most economists believe weekly claims lower than 400,000 indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 418,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 415,000 and 420,000. A survey projected new claims of 430,000 for last week. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, declined by 2,750 claims to 424,000 from a slightly revised 426,750 for the prior week. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended May 28 dipped to 2.9%, according to the Labor Department. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended May 21 fell to about 7.6 million from 7.68 million the prior week. Write to Jason Philyaw.

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