According to the data, the number of workers filing initial jobless claims grew by 54,000, to reach 488,000, significantly higher than the 448,000 expected by analysts polled by Reuters.
The Department of Labor noted that claims are expected to fluctuate during the last weeks of the year, due to workweeks being shortened by the holidays.
As further evidence of a frail labor market, the number of workers lining up for an additional week of benefits shot up by 301,000, the largest increase in 27 year, to reach 4.02 million for the week ending November 17, the latest week for which data are available.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better barometer of the unemployment picture, fell to 454,000 from 456,000 the previous week.
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