Initial jobless claims in U.S. rose last week to 361,000

Initial jobless claims in U.S. rose last week to 361,000

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments rose for the first time in five weeks, a sign further improvement in the labor market depends on faster economic growth.

Applications for jobless benefits increased by 17,000 to 361,000 in the week ended Dec. 15, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 360,000 claims, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

The figures signal the expansion probably needs to proceed more quickly to encourage companies to hold the line on headcounts and step up hiring while Congress debates the nation’s budget and tax rates. The Federal Reserve said last week it intends to keep policy accommodative to invigorate the economy and help sustain a decline in joblessness.

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