Applications for unemployment benefits rose by 13,000 to 282,000 in the first week of December, the Department of Labor reported Thursday morning.

That is the highest level for first-time claims since the first week of July. Private-sector economists polled by Bloomberg had expected initial claims to hover around 270,000.

Claims however, remain very low overall. The monthly average for first-time claims, which are adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, rose by 1,500 to 270,750, still a level not seen before this summer since the turn of the century.

Weekly jobless claims are see as a high-frequency gauge of labor market health, with fewer claims signifying fewer layoffs.

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