WASHINGTON — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, as the continued low levels of applicants reflect growing job security.
The Labor Department says weekly applications fell 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 294,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked up a slight 250 to 299,250.
Over the past 12 months, the four-week average has plunged 10 percent.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When fewer people seek unemployment benefits, it indicates that employers are retaining workers and increasing their hiring to accommodate more demand for their services and products.
The economy gained 321,000 jobs in November — the highest monthly total in nearly three years, the Labor Department said last week.
The unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent, down from 6.7 percent at the start of the year.
JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer