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Jun 19, 2013 4:38 PM by Connie Murphy

Fed foresees lower US unemployment rate

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve expects the U.S. unemployment rate to fall faster this year and next than it did in March.

The Fed now predicts unemployment will fall to 7.2 percent or 7.3 percent at the end of 2013 from 7.6 percent now. It thinks the rate will be between 6.5 percent and 6.8 percent by the end of 2014, better than its previous projection of 6.7 percent to 7 percent.

The 6.5 percent level is significant because the Fed has said it plans to keep the short-term interest rate it controls near zero at least until unemployment falls that low. The Fed thinks that level could be reached by the end of next year.

It also expects inflation to dip even further below its 2 percent target.

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