The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose at the end of August to the highest level in two months, but initial claims are still at very low levels that indicate companies aren't laying off many workers. New claims rose by 12,000 to 282,000 in the week ended Aug. 29, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected new claims to total 271,000. Despite the increase, initial claims have been under the key 300,000 level for the past six months, the longest stretch since 2000. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 3,250 to seasonally adjusted 275,500, the Labor Department said. The four-week average smooths out sharp fluctuations in the more volatile weekly report and is seen as a more accurate predictor of labor-market trends. Some 2.26 million people were already collecting weekly unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, in the seven days ended Aug. 22. That was down 9,000 from the prior week.
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