The number of American people initially applying for unemployment aid last week went up again after the previous week's decline, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 372,000 in the week ending Dec. 29, up 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure. Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which helps smooth out week-to-week volatility, also edged up to 360,000.
Claims below 375,000 generally indicates a sustained drop in the unemployment rate. Applications have mostly stayed near that level from the spring to October, except for a surge in November sparked by the effects of superstorm Sandy on the northern East Coast.
Christmas and New Year holidays, however, may have distorted the figures as many state unemployment offices were closed during the holidays.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Dec. 22 was 3.245 million, an increase of 44,000 from the prior week.
Another report from a private research institute ADP showed that the U.S. private sector added 215,000 jobs in December, which indicated the job market was undergoing a steady improvement. The Labor Department on Friday will release the unemployment rate in December, which is supposed to depict a clearer picture in this regard.