(CN) – Easing fears of an impending slowdown in the jobs market, applications for unemployment benefits grew only slightly more than economists had expected last week.
The number of Americans seeking jobless benefits increased by 8,000 for a total of 225,000 applications for the week ending Feb. 23, according to a Labor Department report. Many analysts had predicted 220,000 unemployment applications.
The more stable four-week average, which is considered a better measure of labor market trends because it smoothens out week-to-week volatility, dropped 7,000 to 229,000.
Despite the slight increase in people seeking unemployment aid last week, the labor market still appears solid, as the overall number is still near the lowest level in decades. The 199,000 unemployment applications reported in mid-January was the lowest mark since November 1969.
Unemployment applications are a proxy for layoffs because those benefits are only for people who lose a job through no fault of their own. Any figure below 300,000 indicates that hiring is healthy and employers are confident enough in future demand to keep their workers.