WASHINGTON (AP) - More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, though the number of applications was still consistent with steady hiring.

WASHINGTON (AP) More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, though the number of applications was still consistent with steady hiring.

The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000, the most in six weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 11,500 to 294,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The average has been near or below 300,000 since September, a historically low number that suggests companies are holding onto their staffs and may even be stepping up hiring.