Jobless Applications at Low Levels

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Slightly more people applied for unemployment benefits last week.

New numbers released Thursday by the Labor Department show unemployment applications increased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000.

Despite the gain, levels are still low enough to suggest a strengthening job market.

Overall, the numbers have fallen 14 percent since October.

"We are not concerned by the modest rise in claims as the downtrend remains firmly in place," Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank, said in a note to clients.

The unemployment rate has lowered for five straight months, while the economy has added an average of 200,000 net jobs per month from November through January.

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