US unemployment claims rise by 4,000 to 239,000

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In this Feb. 5, 2019, file photo lights illuminate the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington. On Thursday, Feb. 14, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week but remains at levels low enough to show that most workers enjoy job security.

The Labor Department says claims for unemployment checks increased by 4,000 to 239,000. The four-week average, which does not bounce around as much, rose 6,750 to 231,750. That’s highest level since late January 2018.

Jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs. They are at low levels consistent with a healthy job market.

Employers last month added 304,000 jobs, the most in nearly a year. Unemployment is at 4 percent, near what economists consider full employment.

The economy has stayed strong despite a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, higher interest rates, and trade disputes with China and other U.S. trading partners.

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