WASHINGTON – Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that employers remain confident in the economy and are laying off few workers.
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The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked up 1,000 to 272,500.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs and are at historically low levels, suggesting businesses are holding onto their staffs. Earlier this month, the four-week average stood at 266,000, the lowest since April 15, 2000.
The applications data will likely be closely watched in the coming weeks for any sign that companies are cutting jobs in the wake of the past week's stock market volatility and global economic turmoil. For now, the data suggests hiring has remained solid this month.