WASHINGTON - More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the figure remained at a low level that suggests layoffs aren't widespread.
The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 272,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, declined 1,250 to 272,000.
The figures indicate that weak overseas economies and wild swings in the stock market haven't caused employers to cut jobs. Applications are a proxy for layoffs and have been at historically low levels for nearly a year. Employers appear confident enough in future growth to hold onto their staffs.
Job gains have been solid for the past three years, pushing the unemployment rate down to an eight-year low of 4.9 percent. Wage gains are accelerating, but still remain below levels consistent with a healthy economy.