WASHINGTON (AP) — Slightly more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market remains one of the healthiest parts of an uneven U.S. economy.

Jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 22 inched up by 3,000 to 217,000 from 214,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The four-week moving average rose to 219,000 from 212,250 the previous week.

Applications for jobless claims, considered a proxy for layoffs, have remained historically low even as the Federal Reserve has cranked up its benchmark borrowing rate in an effort to cool the economy and tame inflation.

The total number of Americans collecting unemployment aid rose by 55,000 to 1.44 million for the week ending Oct. 15, its highest level in seven months.