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Fed Message Muddled If Jobless Aid Expires: Economy

More than 2 million unemployed Americans are at risk of losing their jobless benefits over the next three months. That threatens to undermine the unemployment rate as an anchor for future Federal Reserve action.

For the past year, central bank officials have said their benchmark interest rate will remain near zero as long as the unemployment rate is at least 6.5 percent. Calculations by Michael Feroli, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s chief U.S. economist in New York, indicate that mark could be reached within months.