WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but jobless claims remained low enough to suggest that most Americans enjoy job security.
THE NUMBERS: The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly claims for unemployment aid rose by 22,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 259,000. The less volatile four-week average was 245,500, down by 2,000 and lowest since November 1973. Overall, 2.1 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks, down 6.6 percent from a year ago.
THE TAKEAWAY: Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The low levels suggest that employers are confident enough to be hanging on to their workers. Weekly claims have now come in below 300,000 for 99 straight weeks, longest streak since 1970.
KEY DRIVERS: The U.S. labor market is healthy. The unemployment rate was 4.7 percent last month, near a nine-year low and close to what economists consider full employment. Employers last year added 180,000 jobs a month, solid but down from a monthly average of 229,000 in 2015.