The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits totaled fewer than 300,000 for the 10th straight week, reflecting the low level of layoffs in the U.S. economy as growth gradually picks up. Initial jobless claims fell by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 in the week ended Nov. 15, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to total around 280,000. The level of claims from two weeks ago was revised up to 293,000 from 290,000. Over the past month, meanwhile, the average of new claims rose by 1,750 to 287,500. 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 decreased by 73,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.33 million in the week ended Nov. 8. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits.
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