The Muskegon Chronicle, Madelyn Hastings, Associated Press
In this May 16, 2014 photo, Mike Zulauf, 2008 graduate of the Air Force Academy, shakes hands with Sandra Modena, Sales Manager at Trillium Staffing, at the annual veterans job fair aboard the LST in downtown Muskegon Mich. The Labor Department reports the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week on Thursday, May 22, 2014.

WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, but remained at a low level that suggests hiring should remain steady.

The Labor Department says applications rose 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000. The increase comes after applications fell to their lowest level since May 2007 two weeks ago.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dipped 1,000 to 322,500. The average reached a seven-year low of 312,000 last month. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the low levels suggest companies are cutting few jobs.

The number of people receiving benefits fell to 2.66 million, the fewest since December 1, 2007, when the recession began.

The drop in firings has been accompanied by healthier hiring. Employers are adding more jobs, though unemployment remains at historically high levels.