WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, reflecting a job market that continues to look persistently healthy.

WASHINGTON (AP) The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, reflecting a job market that continues to look persistently healthy.

The Labor Department says applications for jobless aid declined 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000. The less volatile 4-week average ticked up slightly to 272,500.

Claims have been below the critical threshold of 300,000 for the past 42 weeks, a level that generally points to monthly job gains in excess of 200,000. Applications for benefits are often a proxy for layoffs, so the decline indicates that employers are holding onto their workers and potentially looking to expand their payrolls.

The unemployment rate last month remained at a seven-year low of 5 percent. Employers have been adding a healthy 210,000 jobs a month so far this year.