By The Associated Press
SLIGHT INCREASE: Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits ticked up last week by 4,000 to 371,000, the Labor Department said. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose after falling to a four-year low the previous week.
LITTLE CHANGE: Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fluctuated for most of the past 12 months between 360,000 and 390,000, coinciding with modest but steady hiring.
JOB GAINS: Employers added 155,000 jobs in December, the department said last week, while the unemployment rate remained 7.8 percent. The gain nearly matches the 153,000 jobs added each month in 2011 and 2012.