U.S. jobless aid applications fell to 289,000 _lowres

Associated Press file photo by Alan Diaz -- Job seekers on July 16 check out the opportunities at a Hiring Fair For Veterans in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

WASHINGTON — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, as jobless claims remain at relatively low levels that point toward stronger economic growth.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000. The prior week’s was revised up slightly to 303,000.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 4,000 to 293,500. That’s the lowest average since February 2006, almost two years before the Great Recession began at the end of 2007.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When employers keep their workers, it suggests potentially rising incomes, increased hiring activity and confidence that the economy is improving.

Employers added a net total of 209,000 jobs in July, the sixth straight month of job gains above 200,000, the government reported Friday.