Slightly more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but their numbers remain near historic lows in a sign that the job market is healthy.

The Labor Department says applications for jobless aid rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 270,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 6,500 to 268,250. That average has fallen nearly 10 percent over the past year, close to levels last seen in 2000.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Their steady decline suggests that employers are confident about the health of the economy and prospects for continued growth.

On Friday, the government will release its July employment report. Economists expect that employers added another 225,000 jobs last month as the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.3 percent, according to data firm FactSet.