Decline in U.S. Jobless Claims Shows More Labor Market Strength

People seeking jobs wait in a line that stretches down the block from a youth center to speak to over 60 employers at an employment fair May 3, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/GettyImages)

Fewer Americans than forecast filed for unemployment benefits last week, a sign labor market momentum continues to strengthen.

Jobless claims declined by 12,000 to 267,000 in the period ended June 13, the lowest since the week ended May 9, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 277,000 new applications. The figure corresponds to the week the government surveys employers to calculate the monthly payroll data.

The low level of firings indicates employers are optimistic demand will firm as the world’s largest economy rebounds from a first-quarter slowdown. While hiring also has picked up and the jobless rate is hovering just above the level policy makers say is consistent with a stable job market, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that more progress is needed.

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