More Americans filed initial jobless claims last week than most analysts expected, coming in at the highest level since early November.

The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Jan. 7 rose 6.4% to 399,000 from 375,000 the previous week, which was revised upward 3,000.

Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 375,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 352,000 and 405,000. Most economists believe weekly jobless claims lower than 400,000 indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. Initial claims have been lower than this threshold for most of the past two months and reached the lowest point in more than three years at the end of December.

The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, increased by 7,750 claims to 381,750 from the prior week’s slightly revised 374,000. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Dec. 31 remained 2.9%, according to the Labor Department.

The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Dec. 24 rose to 7.33 million from 7.22 million the prior week.

Last week, the Labor Department said nonfarm payroll employment rose in December and the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, which is the lowest rate in nearly three years.

Write to Jason Philyaw.

Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw.

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