WASHINGTON — New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose in the past week but held below the level of 500,000, government data showed Thursday.
New unemployment claims in the week ending December 5 climbed to 474,000 from the prior week's unrevised 457,000, the Labor Department said.
Private economists had expected a drop in new claims to 455,000.
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Overall, the report showed further stabilization of a labor market hit hard by the recession.
The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, fell 7,750 to 473,750.
The insured unemployment rate was 3.9 percent for the week ending November 28, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from the prior week.
Additionally, the number of people receiving benefits for the week to November 28 was 5,157,000, a decrease of 303,000 from the preceding week.
The weekly report offers an up-to-date snapshot of the job market, critical to US economic recovery from recession.
The report came less than a week after data showing the official unemployment rate fell in November to 10.0 percent from 10.2 percent, suggesting the problems in the job market had peaked. The report showed 11,000 jobs were lost in the month, a sharp drop from previous months.
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