BENEFIT CLAIMS UP: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000 for the week ending July 20. That follows a drop of 22,000 the previous week.
LONGER VIEW: Weekly applications data can be volatile. The four-week average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, fell 1,250 to 345,250, according to the Labor Department. That is consistent with an improving job market.
THE OUTLOOK: Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They're down nearly 8 percent this year. Employers have added an average 202,000 new jobs a month this year, up from an average 183,000 in 2012.