Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, keeping this key indicator of labor market health near historic lows.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 275,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 500 to 275,750.
Benefit applications had risen 11,000 in the previous week to 281,000. But even that temporary uptick left benefit claims, a proxy for layoffs, below the 300,000 mark. Applications have been below that level for the past six months, a stretch last seen 42 years ago.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that...