The Labor Department says claims for unemployment checks increased by 4,000 to 239,000. The four-week average, which does not bounce around as much, rose 6,750 to 231,750. That’s highest level since late January 2018.
Jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs. They are at low levels consistent with a healthy job market.
Employers last month added 304,000 jobs, the most in nearly a year. Unemployment is at 4 percent, near what economists consider full employment.
The economy has stayed strong despite a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, higher interest rates, and trade disputes with China and other U.S. trading partners.