WASHINGTON – Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose by 17,000 to a level of 268,000 in the Nov. 26 holiday week, data released by the Labor Department Thursday showed.

This followed an 18,000 gain in the previous week. Seasonal adjustment is difficult around holiday weeks, as evidenced by the sharp declines in the week before and including Veteran's Day earlier in the month. As a result, the four-week moving average is a better tool to use when there is large volatility in the headline reading.

Seasonal adjustment factors had expected a decrease of 18.5%, or 53,286, in unadjusted claims in the current week. Instead, unadjusted claims fell by only 37,417 to 250,377. The current week's unadjusted level was below the 262,628 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The Labor Department said there were no special factors in this week's claims data and no state claims were estimated.

The four-week moving average for initial claims rose by only 500 to 251,500 in the Nov. 26 week following declines in the previous two weeks. If the headline number of claims does not change next week and there are no revisions, the average will rise by 3,500.

The level of continuing claims rose by 38,000 to 2.081 million in the Nov. 19 week after a 60,000 gain in the previous week. Before seasonal adjustment, continuing claims for the Nov. 19 week fell by 112,962 to 1.744 million. This level was well below the 1.891 million level seen in the comparable week a year ago.

With this week's gain in continuing claims, the four-week moving average rose by 12,750 to 2.038 million.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 1.5% in the Nov. 19, below the 1.6% level in the comparable week a year ago and seen through most of 2016.

The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below that reported monthly by the Labor Department because claims are approved for the most part only for job losers, not the job leavers and labor force reentrants included in the monthly report.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.