The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since July, though applications remained at historically low levels.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 293,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased to 285,000, the highest since April.
The unemployment benefits figures are volatile after the winter holidays, when many temporary retail employees are laid off. The government adjusts the figures to reflect those seasonal trends, but isn’t always able to do so perfectly.
Global financial markets have plunged since the year began over fears that world economic growth is slowing. Applications for unemployment aid are a proxy for layoffs and can indicate whether businesses are sufficiently nervous about the economy to cut jobs.