Claims for US jobless benefits tick up, level still healthy

More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but claims remained at a low level consistent with a healthy job market

The Labor Department says 244,000 Americans applied for jobless aid last week, up by 6,000 from the previous week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell by 4,000 to 241,000, lowest since July 1973.

Overall, 2.06 million people are collecting unemployment checks, down 7.7 percent from a year ago.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have come in below 300,000 a week for 103 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1970.

The job market has been solid. The unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, close to what economists consider full employment. Employers added a healthy 227,000 jobs in January.



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