Applications for US jobless aid rise to still-low 247,000

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More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, but the increase was modest and overall applications remain low, evidence of a steady job market.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000. The increase comes a week after applications fell to nearly a 43-year low. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, slipped 1,750 to 256,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the low level points to fewer job cuts. When businesses are holding onto their staffs, it suggests they are confident about future consumer demand. That likely means hiring will also continue.

Job gains have slowed from last year but remain high enough to lower the unemployment rate over time. Employers added 156,000 jobs in December, the government said last week.