(CN) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment rose slightly as June came to an end, but the number of people seeking benefits remained near a historic low that points to a robust job market.
The Labor Department said Thursday weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 248,000. The less volatile four-week average rose just 750 to 243,000.
The department said number of people collecting unemployment benefits has fallen 7.9 percent over the past 12 months to 1.96 million and that a sure sign that the job market remains strong.
As a basic rule of thumb jobless claims are typically seen as a proxy for layoffs. The numbers suggest these are not happening and that employers are holding onto workers in the expectation that business will continue improving.
Jobless claims have now come in below 300,000 for 122 weeks in a row. That’s the longest such stretch since 1970 when the U.S. population was much smaller.
The Labor Department’s employment report to be released Friday is expected to show job gains in June of roughly 180,000, a pick-up from the 138,000 added in May. Forecasters anticipate that the unemployment rate will hold at a healthy 4.3 percent.