WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell a slight 3,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 336,000, a sign that layoffs remain low.
The Labor Department says the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose slightly to a seasonally adjusted 338,500.
The average is roughly in line with pre-recession levels and indicates that companies are cutting few jobs. Applications are a rough proxy for layoffs.
The number of applicants has stabilized in recent weeks despite modest levels of hiring in January and February. This indicates that employers don’t expect a major slowdown in economic growth.
A total of 3.53 million Americans received benefits as of Feb. 1 — the latest period for which figures are available — up from 3.52 million the previous week.