(Bloomberg) — Applications for jobless benefits remained below 300,000 for the 12th straight week, signaling the labor market remains firm even as the economy has been slow to rebound from a first-quarter slump.

Jobless claims increased by 7,000 to 282,000 in the week ended May 23, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 51 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 270,000. Readings this low typically coincide with healthy levels of hiring.

Persistently low firings signal managers are planning for at least steady business demand. As joblessness approaches the Federal Reserve's definition of full employment, employers might be pressured to boost paychecks in order to retain and attract workers.

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