US

Applications for unemployment benefits drop 11,000 last week to 271,000

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, another sign of strength in the job market.

The Labor Department says applications for jobless aid dropped 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000. The less volatile 4-week average was essentially unchanged at 271,000. Claims have been near historic lows for nine months.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. And most Americans are enjoying job security. Layoffs have fallen to pre-recession levels. The unemployment rate last month stayed at a seven-year low of 5 percent. Employers have been adding a healthy 210,000 jobs a month so far this year.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday delivered a vote of confidence in the economy's health, raising short-term interest rates for the first time since June 2006.