"The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits likely rose last week, evidence that jobs remain scarce.
Wall Street economists forecast that first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally-adjusted 555,000 last week from 550,000 the previous week, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. The number of people remaining on the jobless benefit rolls also is expected to increase slightly, to 6.1 million from 6.09 million.
Still, the economy isn't improving fast enough to spur greater hiring. Jobless benefit claims have trended down since topping 670,000 in early April, but remain far above the 325,000 per week associated with a healthy economy.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday said the recession is likely over, though he noted that the economy isn't likely to grow fast enough to lower unemployment anytime soon. Most economists expect the jobless rate to top 10 percent next year, up from its current 9.7 percent."