WASHINGTON -- The number of people seeking unemployment benefits ticked up slightly last week, evidence that the job market isn't improving.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 414,000.
The report suggests companies aren't significantly increasing layoffs, despite weak economic growth. But it also signals that little hiring is taking place. Applications need to fall below 375,000 to indicate sustainable job growth. They haven't been below that level since February.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased for the third straight week to 414,750.
Hurricane Irene didn't affect applications. But the government estimated figures for several states because the Labor Day holiday delayed some reporting of data.