By PAUL WISEMAN, AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the numbers remained low and consistent with a healthy job market.
THE NUMBERS: The Labor Department said Thursday that 236,000 people filed claims for jobless aid, up from 235,000 a week earlier. The less volatile four-week average slipped by 1,250 to 236,750, the lowest since May. The number of Americans collecting unemployment checks fell slightly to 1.94 million, down 9.5 percent from a year ago.
THE TAKEAWAY: Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have come in below 300,000 for 130 straight weeks, the longest such stretch since 1970 when the population was much smaller. The low level suggests that companies are confident enough in the economy to be hanging onto staff.
KEY DRIVERS: The U.S. economy looks solid. The unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, and employers last month added a robust 209,000 jobs. The August jobs report comes out Friday. Economists expect that the economy generated 180,000 new jobs and that unemployment stayed at 4.3 percent.
The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the economy advanced at a 3 percent annual pace from April through June, the strongest growth since the first quarter of 2015.
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