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Jobless drop forces Fed's hand on forward guidance: Lockhart

Job seekers stand in line to meet with prospective employers at a career fair in New York City, October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve should clarify its future plans for raising interest rates now that U.S. unemployment has dropped to 6.7 percent, close to the central bank's stated threshold of 6.5 percent for considering tighter policy, a top Fed official said.

"The drop from 7 to 6.7 percent I think reinforces the need to add some qualitative interpretation to the threshold or to find a different way to communicate," Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart told reporters on Monday.

The Fed has said it will keep rates near zero well past the time unemployment falls below 6.5 percent, especially if inflation remains below its 2 percent target.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)