New U.S. applications for unemployment benefits last week held steady at levels consistent with sustained labor market strength that could encourage the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next month.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 276,000 for the week ended Nov. 7, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims were unrevised.
Claims are not too far from levels last seen in the early 1970s. They have now held below the 300,000 threshold for 36 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch in years. Claims below this level are usually associated with a healthy jobs market.
"The trend in claims remains quite low and continues to point to steady labor market improvement," said Derek Lindsey, an analyst at BNP Paribas in New York.