WASHINGTON (AP) — More people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the first increase in three weeks and evidence that the job market is still sluggish.
The Labor Department says that the number of people seeking benefits rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 424,000. A department spokesman says no states cited extreme weather as a factor in the increase. Tornadoes and floods have devastated several states in the Midwest and South in the past month.
Applications are above the 375,000 level that is consistent with sustainable job growth. Applications peaked at 659,000 during the recession.
Still, the four week average, a less volatile measure, declined for the first time in seven weeks to 438,500.
Employers stepped up hiring this spring, but some economists worry that rising applications indicate hiring is slowing.