The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was lower last week, with the total number of applicants reaching 386,000, according to figures released by the U.S. Labor Department.

The numbers were lower than last week, when 392,000 applied for assistance. The Associated Press reports that when the number is higher than 375,00, it's a sign that hiring is not sufficient to lower the unemployment rate. In another signs of weak growth, the Commerce Department stated that the economy grew at a 1.9 percent annual rate during the first three months of the year, which translates to 90,000 jobs a month.

In an interview with the AP, BMO Capital Markets economist Jennifer Lee said that part of the issues had to do with more timid consumer spending.

"The components point to stronger business investment in structures and housing, but slower growth in the all-important consumer spending and trade," she said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Department, the unemployment rate in May stood at 8.2 percent, higher than the rate of 8.1 percent in April.

Content provided by executive search organization, MRINetwork.

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