Initial jobless benefit claims rose to their highest level since March in the week ended Dec. 14, the Labor Department reported.
The rise reflects fluctuations that usually happen around the end of the year due to holiday-related hiring, Bloomberg News said. The unemployment rate was at a five-year low in November.
Claims rose by 10,000 to 379,000 last week, Labor said. The four-week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure, rose to 343,500, the highest level in a month, from 330,250.
“Claims at this time of year are very volatile, so we don’t want to put too much stock in each week’s fluctuations,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc., told Bloomberg. “Layoffs are low, which is very encouraging.”
The number of people receiving continuous jobless benefits increased by 94,000 to 2.88 million in the prior week ended Dec. 7, Labor said.