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Jobless Claims Pop Above 400,000

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits rose by 6,000 last week, to 402,000, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

They've basically been hovering around that 400,000 mark all year — another sign that while the economy appears to be growing slowly, it isn't advancing fast enough to boost job growth.

The week's most-anticipated economic report is due to be released Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will offer its estimate of how many jobs were (hopefully) added to payrolls in November, and it will give a preliminary figure on last month's unemployment rate.

In October, BLS has estimated, the jobless rate was 9 percent and private employers added a net 104,000 jobs to their payrolls. The jobless rate has been near or above 9 percent since April 2009.

Reuters reports that economists expect to hear that the jobless rate stayed at 9 percent and that payrolls again increased by slightly more than 100,000 jobs.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.