Applications for US unemployment benefits rose last week to stilllow 277000

by Christopher S. Rugaber, The Associated Press Posted Aug 20, 2015 6:35 am MDT Last Updated Aug 20, 2015 at 11:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email WASHINGTON – The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose slightly last week, yet remained at a low level consistent with a solid job market.The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly unemployment applications climbed 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 5,500 to 271,500.Applications, which are a proxy for layoffs, are near the lowest levels in 15 years. Two weeks ago, the four-week average dropped to its lowest point since April 2000. That is a sign that employers are confident enough in the economy’s future growth to hold onto their staffs.The number of people receiving aid fell 24,000 to 2.25 million. That is almost 11 per cent below the level one year ago. Many former recipients have found jobs, while others have exhausted their benefits.The sharp fall in layoffs in the past two years means Americans are enjoying solid job security. Hiring has also picked up and has continued at a steady pace.In July, employers added a net 215,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate remained at a seven-year low of 5.3 per cent.The economy has generated 5.6 million jobs in the past two years, putting more paychecks into Americans’ hands. That is boosting spending and helping the economy to grow. But the steady job gains and falling unemployment rate have yet to boost wages.Average hourly pay increased just 2.1 per cent in July from 12 months earlier, far below the 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent gains that have historically occurred in healthy economies.One trend holding back pay has been sluggish increases in worker productivity. Productivity measures output per hour worked and is a gauge of efficiency.It has expanded just 0.3 per cent in the past year, far below the 2.2 per cent average annual gain for the past six decades. Applications for US unemployment benefits rose last week to still-low 277,000 In this June 10, 2015, photo, job seekers get information at a job fair in Sunrise, Fla. The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)