The number of people filing new applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week but remained at historically low levels that suggest solid economic growth.
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that jobless claims climbed 17,000 last week to 298,000, a level not enough to change widespread views of sustained strength in the labor market.
The four-week moving average of claims considered a better measure of labor-market trends because it smoothes weekly volatility rose 250 to 290,750. The measure has fallen 17.5 percent in the past 12 months.
Jobless claims, a measure of layoffs, have hovered below 300,000 for about four months, suggesting that employers expect strong growth to continue. As fewer workers have sought unemployment aid, job growth has accelerated steadily and helped fuel the broader economy.
Employers added 321,000 jobs in November, bringing the total for the first 11 months of this year to 2.65 million new jobs, already making 2014 the best for hiring since 1999. The unemployment rate in November was steady at 5.8 percent, down from 6.7 percent at the beginning of the year.
However, wage growth has lagged hiring. Average wages increased only 2.1 percent in the past 12 months, meaning that incomes are rising only slightly faster than inflation.