(Newsroom America) -- New claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell to a six-week low as a private survey indicated hiring picked up somewhat in June, reports said Thursday, offering a glimmer of hope for a stagnant job market that has performed poorly over the past three months.
Weekly jobless benefit applications slipped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 374,000, according to a new report from the Labor Department. The figure marks the fewest new claims since the week of May 19.
In a separate report, payroll firm ADP said firms added 176,000 jobs last month - better than the revised total of 136,000 jobs the company reported for May. If that holds up it would be enough to lower the unemployment rate, economists say.
Some analysts noted, however, that hiring could be boosted with the addition of part-time seasonal jobs, and that unless long-term employment opportunities increased the jobless rate would rise again in early fall as the seasonal work ended.
Others say the economy, overall, is still in bad shape.
"Most analysts see the unemployment rate remaining staying at 8.2 percent, while some anticipate an increase," says Peter Morici, a economics professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.
"The wildcard is the number of adults actually working or seeking jobs-the measure of the labor force used to calculate the unemployment rate," he wrote in a Wednesday column. "Adults who have quit looking and left the labor force altogether are responsible for 99 percent of the reduction in the unemployment rate from 10 percent since October 2009.
"Adding adults on the sidelines, who say they would reenter the labor market if conditions improved, and part-time workers, who would prefer full-time positions, the unemployment rate becomes nearly 15 percent," he said.
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