Weekly Applications for U.S. Jobless Aid Fall to 265,000

A job seeker fills out an application during a National Career Fairs job fair in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, continuing a nearly two-year trend that suggests a solid job market.

Weekly requests for jobless aid fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The less volatile four-week moving average for claims was 263,000. Over the past year, the number of people collecting benefits has fallen almost 5 percent to 2.1 million.

The historically low number of people seeking jobless aid is a positive sign for the economy.

Weekly jobless claims below 300,000 often point to healthy hiring levels. The low level of applications indicates that employers are holding onto workers and possibly looking to expand. Claims have stayed below 300,000 for 95 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

Consumer spending has been strong enough to sustain job growth, even though global pressures appear to have stunted overall economic gains during 2016.

U.S. employers have added 2.25 million jobs over the past 12 months. And in November, the unemployment rate fell to a nine-year low of 4.6 percent.