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Washington — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose last week, but to a low level that indicates employers are cutting relatively few jobs.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, slipped to 269,250.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs and have remained below 300,000 for 67 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1973.

The figures are a reassuring sign that the job market may be healthier than other recent data suggests. Businesses cut back sharply on hiring in April and May. But a low level of applications for jobless aid is a sign that they aren’t laying off workers. A low level of claims is also consistent with steady hiring over time.

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