Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose last week, maintaining a see-saw pattern around four-decade lows that shows persistent strength in the labor market.

Jobless claims climbed by 9,000 to 269,000 in the period ended Nov. 28, matching the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. Filings are hovering just above the 255,000 level reached in July, the lowest since the 1970s.

Companies are reluctant to dismiss workers as the labor market tightens, a development Federal Reserve policy makers are monitoring as they consider raising their benchmark interest rate. A greater sense of job security may help Americans feel more comfortable spending during the holidays, which would provide a much-needed boost to growth.

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