The numbers: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in the week before Christmas rose slightly to 216,000, but new filings remained low and signaled the labor market is still quite strong.
New applications rose by 2,000 from a revised 214,000 in the prior week, the government said Thursday.
Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims would total 220,000 in the seven days ending Dec 17. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
The number of people applying for jobless benefits is one of the best barometers of whether the economy is getting better or worse. New unemployment filings are still historically low, but not quite as low as they were in the spring.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, meanwhile, was basically unchanged at 1.67 million. It’s the highest reading since February, but also quite low historically.
Read: Inflation appears to be slowing, but the Fed isn’t turning down the heat
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
were set to open lower in Thursday trades.