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Reports: US Economic Outlook Brightens, Exports Falter

FILE - People are seen waiting in line to meet with recruiters during a job fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Reports published Thursday show the U.S. economic outlook, job market, and inflation rate improving, while the strong dollar is hurting American exports.

Researchers at the Conference Board say increasing construction was the key reason that the outlook for growth improved.

Earlier, Labor Department experts said the number of people signing up for unemployment compensation dropped pretty close to the lowest level in 15 years. Twelve thousand fewer Americans asked for aid, for a nationwide total of 267,000.

PNC Bank economist Gus Faucher said the low rate of layoffs is evidence of a strengthening job market. He said the U.S. economy has been creating more than enough jobs to make places for the usual number of new entrants to the workforce.

A separate report on inflation shows prices rose four-tenths of a percentage point in May as gasoline costs began to rise after months of low prices. Outside the volatile areas of food and energy, prices rose 1.7 percent.

Economists working for Wells Fargo say the pace of price increases is increasing, and inflation is moving closer to the U.S. central bank’s target rate of two percent.

Another government report showed U.S. exports declined in the first few months of this year. Experts say the strong dollar means U.S.-made goods are more expensive for foreign customers and that crimps sales.