WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed up for unemployment benefits last week, another sign of a healthy U.S. job market.

The Labor Department says weekly claims for jobless aid slid by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 258,000. The less-volatile four-week average rose by 1,000 to 252,500.

Claims have come in below 300,000 for 92 straight weeks, longest such streak since 1970 when the population and labor force were much smaller.

Applications for unemployment benefits are a proxy for layoffs. The low level suggests that employers are holding onto their staffs and that most American workers enjoy job security.

The Labor Department reported last week that the economy generated a solid 178,000 jobs in November and that unemployment dropped to a nine-year low 4.6 percent.


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