US hiring outlook improves, but economy still weak

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by Laura Matovina

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After two lackluster months, economists have a brighter outlook this week as the government prepares to release employment figures from June.

Payroll provider ADP predicted businesses added 176,000 jobs last month. That's better than the revised total of 136,000 jobs it reported for May and, if sustained, would be enough to lower the unemployment rate.

Goldman Sachs responded to the better data by raising its forecast to a gain of 125,000 jobs last month, up from its initial prediction of 75,000.

A FactSet survey forecast that employers added 90,000 jobs last month, while the 8.2 percent unemployment rate didn't change. But that was before an improved report on weekly jobless claims.

Economists typically say it takes at least 125,000 new jobs each month to absorb population growth.

Companies are also planning fewer layoffs, according to a survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

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