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Unemployment benefit claims up by 10,000 last week

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WASHINGTON (AP) - More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, though the winter holidays likely distorted the data for the second straight week.

The Labor Department says weekly applications rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000 in the week ended Dec. 29. The previous week's total was revised higher.

Many state unemployment offices were closed last week for the New Year's holiday. As a result, the department relied on estimates for nine states. Two weeks ago, the department estimated 19 states because of Christmas closings.

In a typical week, the government estimates only one or two states.

The government will release the December's jobs report Friday. Economists forecast it will show employers added about 150,000 jobs last month, barely enough to lower the unemployment rate.

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