Applications for US unemployment aid rise to still-low 241,000, a sign of healthy job market

Economic Indicators Associated Press

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line to attend TechFair LA, a technology job fair, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Slightly more people sought US unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applications remained at a historically low level that suggests the job market is healthy.

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The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 241,000. The less-volatile four-week average ticked up 1,500 to 244,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs and they have come in below 300,000, a historically low level, for 120 weeks in a row. That's the longest such stretch since 1970. Employers have added jobs at a steady pace this year, though somewhat slower than in 2016, and the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.

Businesses are hiring despite slow growth in the first three months of the year. Analysts, however, expect faster growth in the current quarter.

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

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