Applications for U.S. Jobless Aid Rise to Still-Low 267,000

WASHINGTON (AP) -

More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the increase was from a very low level and the figures still point to a healthy job market.

Applications for jobless aid rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less-volatile figure, dropped 3,750 to 274,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and two weeks ago they plummeted to the lowest level in almost 42 years. That suggests that Americans are enjoying a nearly unprecedented level of job security.

The number of people receiving benefits rose 46,000 to 2.26 million. That figure has fallen 11.2 percent in the past year as employers have stepped up hiring, though some of that decline reflects those who have exhausted all the benefits available to them.

Fewer layoffs have coincided with stronger job gains. Employers have added an average of 221,000 jobs a month in the past three months, driving down the unemployment rate to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.

Nearly 3 million jobs have been created in the past year.