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Unemployment Benefits

Applications for unemployment benefits jump

More Americans requested unemployment benefits last week, but the level remains near historic lows, a positive sign for the job market.

Applications for jobless aid jumped 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The less volatile four-week average climbed 4,500 to total 277,000.

Over the last 12 months, the number of people receiving benefits has fallen 7.1% to 2.2 million.

The influx of part-time, seasonal jobs during the winter holidays can make the jobless claims figures volatile, but the employment gains of the last year look likely to continue. Applications for benefits are a proxy for layoffs, so the low level indicates that...