WASHINGTON – More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the totals stayed near historic lows in a sign that the recent slowdown in growth has yet to spark layoffs.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid rose 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 274,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, edged up to 258,000, close to the 42-year low achieved two weeks ago.
With relatively few people seeking unemployment benefits, it appears as though employers are unworried about recent sluggish growth. The economy expanded an annual pace of just 0.5 percent in the first quarter, the weakest pace in two years.
The figures point to job growth in Friday’s employment report. Economists forecast that employers added 200,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate remained 5 percent.
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