​Weekly jobless claims stay near recent low

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, remaining at the lowest point since mid-April.

The Labor Department says weekly benefit applications held steady at 254,000, following a decline of 16,000 in the previous week. It was the lowest point since the number fell to 248,000 for the week of April 16.

Weekly claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been below 300,000 for 71 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.

In another mark of the health of the labor market, the government reported last week that employers added 287,000 jobs in June, the strongest gain in eight months and a sharp rebound after May's anemic payroll gain of 11,000.

The labor market's solid June performance eased concerns of a possible economic downturn.