WASHINGTON – The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits ticked lower last week, pushing down the four-week average of applications to its lowest level since April 2000.
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The Labor Department says weekly applications fell 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000 last week. That is just above a 15-year low reached three weeks ago. The average, a less volatile figure, dropped 7,750 to 271,750, the lowest in 15 years.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so their very low level is evidence that Americans are enjoying solid job security. It is also a sign employers are confident enough in the economy to keep their staffs, despite signs of sluggish growth.
The economy likely shrank in the first three months of the year, held back by a strong dollar and harsh winter weather.