US jobless aid apps on rise

WASHINGTON (AP) – More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but jobless claims remain at pre-recession levels.

Weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000, the Labor Department said today. The prior week’s claims were revised down to 279,000, the lowest since May 2000.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 3,500 to 297,250. That’s the lowest average since April 2006, more than a year before the Great Recession began at the end of 2007.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When employers keep their workers, it suggests potential income gains, active hiring and confidence that the economy is growing.

Employers added 288,000 jobs in June, the fifth straight month of job gains above 200,000.