WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose 13,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 336,000, but the level remains consistent with solid job gains.
The Labor Department says the four-week average, which smooths week to week fluctuations, fell for the sixth week in a row to 330,500. That's the lowest for the average since November 2007.
Companies are cutting fewer workers, a sign that many could step up hiring. Weekly applications have fallen 10 percent since January.
Applications for unemployment benefits generally reflect layoffs. At the depths of the recession in March 2009, they numbered 670,000. They have fallen steadily ever since.