WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose slightly last week but the four-week average declined to the lowest level in more than four decades, another sign the job market is healthy.
The Labor Department says the number of people applying for benefits edged up by 3,000 last week to 259,000 after two weeks of declines. The four-week average for benefit applications fell by 2,000 to 263,250, the lowest level since December 1973.
There are indications that the economy has slowed in recent weeks. A strong dollar has hurt U.S. export sales and industrial output has weakened as businesses cut back on orders in an effort to trim excess supplies. But so far, this weakness has not spurred a rise in layoffs. Benefit applications are a proxy for job layoffs.