WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, yet remained at a historically low level that points to a healthy job market.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid increased 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 279,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 3,750 to 278,750.
Even with the increases, both figures remain at very low levels. The average fell to a 15-year low last month. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the figures suggest that few Americans are losing their jobs.
In addition to holding onto workers, businesses are also stepping up hiring. Employers added 280,000 jobs last month, the government said last week, a strong showing that suggests businesses are staffing up in anticipation of robust consumer demand.