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US weekly requests for jobless aid rise to still-low 248,000

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WASHINGTON -

(AP) - Slightly more Americans applied for jobless aid last week, but the number of people seeking benefits has stayed near historic lows that point to a robust job market.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 248,000. The less volatile four-week average rose 750 to 243,000.

Applications are linked to layoffs. Jobless claims have come in below 300,000 for 122 weeks in a row. That's the longest such stretch since 1970 when the U.S. population was much smaller.

Employers have hired this year at a slower pace as the unemployment rate has fallen to a healthy 4.3 percent. The Labor Department's employment report to be released Friday is expected to show job gains in June of roughly 180,000.

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