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

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.


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