The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week posted the biggest increase in two months, but initial claims are still exceedingly low amid an uptick in hiring and relatively few layoffs. Initial jobless claims rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 290,000 in the seven days ended Nov. 8, the Labor Department said Thursday. Weekly claims have hovered below 300,000 for nine straight weeks, a feat last accomplished at the end of an Internet-fueled economic boom in 2000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to rise to 280,000 from an unrevised 278,000 in the prior week. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, climbed by 6,000 to 285,000. The four-week average reduces seasonal volatility in the weekly data and is seen as a more accurate barometer of labor-market trends. Also, Labor said continuing claims increased by 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.39 million in the week ended Nov. 1. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits.
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