The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week and the underlying trend remained consistent with a tightening labor market that is starting to spur faster wage growth.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000 for the week ended Jan. 7, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Last week's data included the New Year holiday. Claims tend to be volatile around this time of the year because of different timings of the various holidays. Claims have fluctuated in a 233,000-275,000 range since mid-November.
They have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market, for 97 consecutive weeks. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.