New economic data Thursday show the U.S. job market getting worse, while the troubled factory sector got a little better.
The number of newly-laid off Americans signing up for unemployment aid rose by 12,000 to hit the highest level (669,000) in 26 years last week.
Thursday's report from the U.S. Labor Department also showed the number of people collecting jobless aid for more than one week hit yet another record high above 5.7 million.
A separate government report on new orders to U.S. factories said they rose 1.8 percent in February. The increase follows six straight months of declines.
Government experts publish a more detailed look at the battered U.S. job market on Friday, when they report the unemployment rate for March.
Economists surveyed by news organizations predict the jobless rate will surge four-tenths of a percent to hit 8.5 percent, the highest level in more than two decades.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.