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OPINION

Initial Jobless Claims in U.S. Decline More Than Forecast as Firings Abate

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Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, indicating the pickup in firings that began in April is abating.

Jobless claims declined by 16,000 to 414,000 in the week ended June 11, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected 420,000 filings, according to the median forecast. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls and those receiving extended payments decreased.

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Further declines in dismissals followed by gains in hiring would help sustain consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. While payrolls have been climbing, a jobless rate above 9 percent underscores the need for a pickup in employment that will spur an expansion entering its third year.

Claims are “still high but it seems we’re heading in the right direction,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. “Companies are not ready to ramp up hiring until they’re more confident the recovery is on firmer footing.”

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