WASHINGTON (AP) -- More people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, although jobless claims continue to be close to pre-recession levels.<br />
Weekly applications for unemployment aid climbed 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 311,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The prior week's was revised up slightly to 290,000.<br />
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 2,000 to 295,750. That continues to be close to averages that predate the beginning of the Great Recession in late 2007.<br />
"Stepping back from the weekly volatility," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, "the trend is still very encouraging and points to continued job growth."
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.