Applications for U.S. jobless aid climbed last week, but the number of Americans seeking benefits remains close to historic lows in a positive sign for the job market.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid rose 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The less volatile four-week average was 270,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs and have been bouncing around record lows for nine months. The low numbers point to a solid environment for hiring, suggesting that employers are holding onto workers and potentially looking to add staff on the expectation of further growth.

The economy added roughly 211,000 jobs in the November and 298,000 in October. The unemployment rate has held at 5 percent.