Initial jobless claims increased 7,000 to 480,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending Dec. 12, the Labor Department reported yesterday.
Continuing claims rose by 5,000 to 5.186 million for the week ending Dec. 5.
Economists expected 465,000 initial claims last week and 5.150 million continuing claims in the prior week.
The initial claims figure was revised lower for the week ending Dec. 5 to 473,000 from 474,000 initially reported. The continuing claims figure was revised to 5.181 million from 5.157 million.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less volatile figure, decreased to 467,500 from 472,750. The moving average has declined for 15 consecutive weeks and is at its lowest point since September 2008.
The continuing claims moving average also declined, falling to 5.318 million from 5.425 million in its 13th consecutive weekly decline.