United States applications for unemployment benefits jumped last week

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A Bloomberg survey of 30 economists projected jobless claims to be just 270,000 in the month of December.

More Americans requested unemployment benefits last week, but the level remains near historic lows in a positive sign for the job market.

In a press release today, the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that adjusted initial jobless claims, for the week ended December 26, were 287,000.

The four-week moving average, which helps to smooth weekly volatility, rose by 4,500 to 277,000 last week.

There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims, the report said.

The prior week's reading of 267,000 was now trumped by what may turn out to be the highest jobless claims reading since summer.

Over the past 12 months, the number of people receiving benefits has fallen 7.1 percent to 2.2 million. Part of the reason is the strong job market improvement.

As long as unemployment stays at or close to 5.0%, the Federal Reserve and Chair Janet Yellen likely will continue to be poised to gradually raise interest rates in 2016.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance benefits jumped to an almost six-month high last week during the Christmas holiday season, the US Labour Department reported on Thursday.

Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings, and a sustained low level of applications typically coincides with faster job gains.

Since early March, claims have been below the 300,000 level that economists say is typically consistent with an improving job market.

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