The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid last week rose after falling for four consecutive weeks, the U.S. Labor Department reported.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 361,000 in the week ending Dec. 15, up 17,000 from the previous week's revised figure.
While, the four-week moving average, which helps smooth out week-to-week volatility, declined dramatically to 367,750, moving back below the 375,000 level is generally considered to indicate a sustained drop in unemployment.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Dec. 8 was 3.225 million, an increase of 12,000 from the prior week.
Another report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed the economy expanded at a revised 3.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter after a previously reported 2.7 percent. The stronger U.S. economy pushed the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent in November, the lowest level since December 2008.
In addition, the U.S. Federal Reserve earlier this month announced it would continue pumping money into the economy by buying assets and hold its short-term rate near zero until the unemployment rate drops below 6.5 percent, an aggressive move to stimulate economic growth and job creation.
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