Applications for Jobless Aid Dropped Last Week

WASHINGTON (AP) -

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, reflecting a job market that continues to look persistently healthy.

The Labor Department says applications for jobless aid declined by 5,000, to a seasonally adjusted 267,000. The less volatile 4-week average ticked up slightly to 272,500.

Claims have been below the critical threshold of 300,000 for the past 42 weeks, a level that generally points to monthly job gains in excess of 200,000. Applications for benefits are often an indication of layoffs, so the decline indicates that employers are holding onto their workers and potentially looking to expand their payrolls.

The unemployment rate last month remained at a seven-year low of 5 percent. Employers have been adding a healthy 210,000 jobs a month so far this year.