WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits basically held steady last week, as the job market continues to outpace broader economic growth.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose slightly by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000. Jobless claims have been subdued for the past two weeks after winter storms caused them to spike at the end of February due to closed schools and construction sites.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 2,250 to 304,750. That average has dropped 7.5 percent over the past year.
Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. When employers keep their workers, it is generally a sign that they expect continued economic growth and will likely increase hiring. Applications below 300,000 are typically consistent with healthy job gains.
JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer