The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose just 1,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 308,000, hovering near six-year lows. Companies still are cutting few jobs; however, the decline in layoffs has not been accompanied by a pickup in hiring.
The less volatile four-week average for applications fell to 305,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the lowest since May 2007. Weekly applications could increase next week because of the partial government shutdown. Defense contractors and other companies that do business with the government may temporarily lay off workers. Federal workers who are temporarily laid off can file for benefits, though their numbers are published a week later.