WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, a sign that employers aren't cutting jobs in response to global economic weakness and sharp stock market drops.

WASHINGTON (AP) The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, a sign that employers aren't cutting jobs in response to global economic weakness and sharp stock market drops.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 2,250 to 283,000.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and the decline suggests that businesses remain confident enough in future economic growth to hold onto their staffs.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve pointed to weaker U.S. growth and indicated it might slow its pace of interest rate increases this year.