More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, yet total applications remained at a historically low level that suggests workers are enjoying solid job security.
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The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 243,000.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have been below the 300,000 benchmark for 111 weeks. That's the longest such streak since 1970.
The data adds to evidence that the job market is healthy, even as the economy is growing at a sluggish pace. Employers added an average of 175,000 jobs a month from January through March. The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.5 percent, the lowest in nearly a decade.
By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer