Applications for unemployment benefits held steady at 276,000 in the first week of November, the Labor Department reported Thursday, advancing the trend toward decades-low claims.

The four-week moving average for first-time claims rose for a second straight week, by 5,000 to 267,750. Despite that increase, however, the average is still at a level not seen before this fall since the early 1970s.

Private-sector economists polled by Bloomberg had expected around 266,000 first-time claims, which are adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.

Officials and investors view low levels of jobless claims as a sign that layoffs are also infrequent.