US weekly requests for jobless aid up 3,000 to 244,000

WASHINGTON (AP) - More Americans applied for jobless aid last week. Despite the small increase, the number of people seeking benefits remains close to historic lows.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly unemployment applications rose by 3,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 244,000. But the less volatile four-week average declined 1,000 to 241,000.

Applications closely reflect layoffs. Jobless claims have come in below 300,000 for 127 weeks in a row. That's the longest such stretch since 1970, when the U.S. population was much smaller.

The unemployment rate has fallen to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent. The government's report for July, issued last week, showed that U.S. employers added 209,000 jobs. One highlight of that report, more Americans are coming off the sidelines and finding jobs.