US jobless aid applications fall to 6-week low

The job market may have perked up slightly last month, according to reports released Thursday.

About 374,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the last week of June, 14,000 fewer than the week before, the Labor Department reported.

Separately, payroll-processing company ADP reported that private businesses added 176,000 jobs in June, a significant increase from May when employers added 133,000 jobs. It was also higher than forecasts for 105,000 jobs added.

Small businesses continued to drive job growth, with companies employing fewer than 50 employees hiring 93,000 people.

Large companies with 500 or more employees hired 11,000 new workers, and medium-sized businesses added 72,000 to their payrolls.

The ADP report typically sets the tone for the government jobs report due out Friday.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney expect that report to show the economy added 80,000 jobs, after factoring in some government layoffs. The unemployment rate is expected to remain at 8.2% in June.

The economy needs about 125,000 new jobs each month just to keep the unemployment rate steady.