The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits rose marginally from near a 49-year low last week, suggesting underlying strength in the labor market and broader economy.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 214,000 for the week ended Dec. 15, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims had dropped to 206,000 in the prior week, close to the 202,000 reached in mid-September, which was the lowest level since December 1969.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims increasing to 216,000 in the latest week.
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday for the fourth time this year, but forecast fewer rate hikes next year and signaled its tightening cycle is nearing an end in the face of financial market volatility and slowing global growth.
The U.S. central bank said "the labor market has continued to strengthen," and described job gains as having been "strong, on average, in recent months."
The Labor Department said no claims were estimated last week. Claims have been volatile in recent weeks, with some economists saying an early Thanksgiving holiday had pulled forward seasonal layoffs, throwing off a model that the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.