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Jobless claims rise last week to 317,000

Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 317,000 last week, holding below this year’s average and signaling sustained progress in the labor market.

Jobless claims climbed by 4,000 in the week ending June 7, a Labor Department report showed Thursday.

The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 310,000. Claims have averaged about 324,000 so far in 2014.

Faster sales over time would make it easier for those employers whose headcounts are lean to step up hiring. While payroll gains are on pace for their best year since 1999, stronger wage growth is needed to help provide a bigger push for the consumer spending that accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.

“Relatively low layoffs supported good payroll growth in May,” said Guy Berger, U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Conn., who correctly projected claims. Thursday’s report is “supportive of good employment growth in June.”

Consumers took a break in May after a three-month surge in shopping that has underpinned growth. A 0.3 percent increase in retail sales followed a revised 0.5 percent advance that was much larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed Thursday.

Other Labor Department figures Thursday showed prices of imported goods rose 0.1 percent in May after a 0.5 percent decrease the previous month.

Economists’s estimates in the Bloomberg survey for jobless claims ranged from 300,000 to 340,000 after an initially reported 312,000 in the prior week.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, climbed to 315,250 from 310,500 in the prior week.

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