Applications for US unemployment aid rise to 283,000, though remain near 14-year low

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits rose last week after falling to a 14-year low the previous week. Despite the increase, weekly applications remain at historically low levels that suggest hiring is gaining steam.

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The Labor Department says applications rose 17,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 283,000. That is the sixth straight week below 300,000. Applications have fallen 19 percent in the past year.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined 3,000 to 281,000, the lowest in 14 years. As a percentage of the working population, applications are near their lowest levels since the early 1970s.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Their unusually low level suggests that employers are confident enough to hold onto workers and may step up hiring.