Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell for the first time in three weeks as employers retained workers to meet demand.
Jobless claims dropped by 20,000 to 331,000 in the period ended Feb. 1, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 335,000.
The decline in dismissals shows employers are confident demand for goods and services will hold up at the same time fiscal restraints ease. A pickup in the pace of hiring and wage growth would help fuel bigger gains in theconsumer spending that accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.
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