The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped at the beginning of June, a sign that there were fewer factory closings than expected.

For the week ending in July 10, 429,000 people filed for unemployment insurance, the lowest since August 2008 and a decrease of 29,000 from the previous report. Some of the increase was due to companies like General Motors Co. not shutting down for the summer, the Associated Press reported.

"The labor market is still improving, but at a slower rate than desired," Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc., told Bloomberg. "Companies are still cautious about hiring at this point because there are still some lingering concerns about the strength of the economy in the second half of this year."

Jobless claims have decreased in three of the past four weeks. Read more.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. announced Thursday that the technology firms are retaining employees well and that planned job cuts in the industry are down by 70 percent compared with last year in the first six months of 2010.

Employers announced plans to cut 35,375 workers, down from 118,108 last year.

"While companies have been slow to add workers in the recovery, they are quickly adding and updating technology after many months of postponing such expenditures," said John Challenger, the CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement. "They aren't the only ones increasing their tech budgets. Despite ongoing effects from the recession, consumers appear to be spending more on smart phones, tablet computers, laptops and other electronic gear."