U.S. jobless claims rise but still near historic lows

WASHINGTON -- More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but levels remain near historic lows as employers are hesitant to let go of workers.

The Labor Department says that a seasonally adjusted 276,000 people sought jobless aid last week, up from 260,000 in the prior week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 3,500 to 262,750.

Jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs. Recent multi-decade lows indicate that employers expect the economy to continue to improve despite global pressures on growth, prompting them to hold onto workers. The four-week average has stayed below 300,000 since late March, achieving levels traditionally linked with a healthy job market.

The government releases the October jobs report Friday. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect that employers added a net 182,000 jobs last month.