The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week by 17,000, reversing four weeks of declines. But the number of people seeking aid is consistent with a job market that continues to grow modestly.
Unemployment claims rose the week of Dec. 15 to a seasonally adjusted 361,000 from a revised 344,000 the week before.
The less-volatile four-week moving average fell 13,750 to 367,750, lowest since late October. Applications had surged in early November after Superstorm Sandy, then dropped back.
Just over 5.4 million people were receiving some type of unemployment benefit the week ended Dec. 1, down from nearly 7.2 million a year earlier.