​New jobless claims rise but keep record streak intact

Last Updated Jul 29, 2016 11:08 AM EDT

WASHINGTON - More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, but the number of applications was still at a low level that suggested hiring is healthy.

The Labor Department says applications for unemployment benefits rose 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 266,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, slipped 1,000 to 256,500.

Weekly applications, which are a proxy for layoffs, are at historically low levels that suggest businesses are confident enough about the future to hold onto their employees.

The number of people seeking aid has been below 300,000 for 73 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1973.

Hiring has slowed in recent months, but it remains large enough to lower the unemployment rate over time. Job gains jumped to 287,000 in June, the most in eight months.

Separately, the wages and benefits paid to U.S. civilian workers rose at a steady pace in the second quarter compared to the first three months of the year, as income growth showed signs of slight acceleration.

The Labor Department says total compensation increased 0.6 percent from April to June, matching the pace of the prior three months. Over the past 12 months, employment costs have risen 2.3 percent, up from the annual pace of 2 percent a year ago.

For private industry, most of the growth has come in the form wages and salaries that account for 70 percent of compensation costs. But for state and local government workers, the increase largely resulted from greater spending on benefits.

Despite the moderate increase, employment costs still indicate minimal inflation pressures.