Unemployment benefit applications have spiked to the highest number in three months -- a sign that the market is not improving.
The Labor Department announced Thursday that the number of people seeking jobless aid rose last week by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted rate of 428,000.
Applications need to fall below 375,000 to indicate that hiring is good enough to lower the unemployment rate.
"Job growth is moving sideways, which is problematic," Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics Inc., told Business Week. "We really need the labor market to improve to generate the wages to support consumer spending."
The dreary report serves as more incentive for the leaders in Washington and Federal Reserve to take additional steps to resuscitate an ailing economy.