WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits rose 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, although the level remains consistent with steady hiring.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average increased 6,000 to 351,750.
The weekly applications data can be volatile in July because some automakers briefly shut down their factories to prepare for new models and many schools close. Those factors can create a temporary spike in layoffs.
The broader trend has been favorable. Applications have declined steadily in the past year, as companies have laid off fewer workers and stepped up hiring. In the past six months, employers have added an average of 202,000 jobs a month. That's up from an average of 180,000 in the previous six months.
Employers added 195,000 jobs in June, and revisions showed that an additional 70,000 jobs were added in the previous two months. The unemployment rate was 7.6 percent, down from 8.2 percent a year earlier.