Applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since April, a sign the weakness in the labor market is abating.
Jobless claims fell by 24,000 to 398,000 in the week ended July 23, fewer than forecast, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a drop to 415,000. There were no special factors associated with the decrease other than the usual volatility that occurs each year in July, a Labor Department spokesman said.
A reduction in firings is a necessary step toward the point when employers are more willing to add workers. The lack of hiring means the unemployment rate will probably keep hovering near 9 percent, restraining consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.
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