WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000.
The increase in the week ending July 20 follows a drop of 22,000 the previous week. But the broader trend is consistent with an improving job market. The four-week average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, fell 1,250 to 345,250, according to the Labor Department.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They are down nearly 8 percent this year.
Employers have added an average 202,000 new jobs a month this year, up from an average 183,000 in 2012.