12/22/2016 03:40 EST | Updated 12/23/2017 00:12 EST

Applications for US jobless aid jump to still low 275,000

WASHINGTON — More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, but the number of applications remains at a low level that suggests companies are still hiring.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 275,000. That is the most since June. Still, any figure below 300,000 points to a healthy job market.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and have been below 300,000 for 94 straight weeks. That's the longest streak since 1970. And last month, the unemployment rate fell to a nine-year low of 4.6 per cent.

Layoffs typically rise in winter when construction sites close and hotels and restaurants at tourist sites cut back on their staffing. The government seasonally adjusts for those trends but does not always do so perfectly.