WASHINGTON -- Applications for jobless benefits rose last week for the first time in three weeks, evidence that companies are reluctant to hire in a slow economy.

The Labor Department says initial claims for unemployment aid rose by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 462,000. It was only the second rise in two months.

Despite the ups and down, claims have been stuck near 450,000 all year. Few employers see much reason to create many jobs, and some are still laying off workers.

In addition, cash-strapped state and local governments are cutting jobs, adding to the ranks of those out of work.

The four-week average of claims, a less volatile measure, rose by 2,250 to 459,000.