Unemployment Rate

U.S. Jobless Claims Hit Two-Month High

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The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased to a two-month high last week. Swings in jobless applications are typical in July as auto plants close for annual retooling.

First-time claims rose by 16,000 to 360,000 in the week ended July 6 from a revised 344,000, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 340,000. Claims are difficult to adjust in July for seasonal events such as vehicle plant shutdowns and the Independence Day holiday, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data were released.

Firings need to keep waning to lay the groundwork for a pickup in hiring once the effect of higher taxes and federal budget cutbacks fades in the second half of the year. Sustained job gains would help propel income growth and underpin household spending, the biggest part of the economy.

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