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Jul 28, 8:31 AM EDT

Applications for US jobless aid rise to still-low 266,000



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WASHINGTON (AP) -- More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, but the number of applications was still at a low level that suggested hiring is healthy.

The Labor Department says applications for unemployment benefits rose 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 266,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, slipped 1,000 to 256,500.

Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They are at historically low levels that suggest businesses are confident enough about the future to hold onto their employees.

The number of people seeking aid has been below 300,000 for 73 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1973.

Hiring has slowed in recent months but remains large enough to lower the unemployment rate over time. Job gains jumped to 287,000 in June, the most in eight months.

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