Applications for jobless benefits rise to 339,000

February 14, 2014 

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 8,000 last week to 339,000, evidence that layoffs ticked up. Still, the increase wasn’t enough to suggest the job market is worsening.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, increased 3,500 to a seasonally adjusted 336,750.

The average is roughly in line with pre-recession levels and suggests that, despite last week’s rise, companies are cutting few jobs. Applications are a proxy for layoffs.

Last week’s figure may also have been pushed up by cold weather, which can cause construction firms and other companies to stop work.

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