The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week after reaching the lowest level in 51/2 years. But the broader trend suggests companies are laying off fewer workers.
The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for first-time benefits rose 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000 in the week ending Aug. 17. That’s up from 323,000 in the previous week. But the four-week average, which smooths week-to-week fluctuations, fell by 2,250 to 330,500. That’s the sixth straight decline and the lowest for the average since November 2007. At the depths of the recession in March 2009, applications numbered 670,000.News Tribune news services