The latest information from the U.S. government shows American workers are still having a tough time finding jobs.

Thursday's report from the Labor Department says the number of Americans continuing to collect jobless benefits rose to a record high for a 16th week in a row - to almost 6.7 million.

The report also finds the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, by 12,000 to 631,000, a sign the pace of layoffs may have slowed. 

Meanwhile, two separate reports Thursday also indicate the recession in the U.S. is beginning to ease.

The private New York-based Conference Board said Thursday its index of leading economic indicators, which looks at data that include jobless claims, stock prices and orders for goods rose one percent in April. 

And one of the Federal Reserve's regional banks said manufacturing is contracting but at a slower pace than in previous months.

On Wednesday the Federal Reserve warned the U.S. economy will get worse despite "tentative evidence" of improvement, with the country's unemployment rate climbing close to 10 percent this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.