The Labor Department says the less-volatile four-week average rose 4,250 to 348,000.
Claims had jumped 75,000 the two weeks that ended Dec. 14 before plunging last week.
Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs and are now consistent with a solid job market.
Hiring has been healthy the past four months. The economy added an average of 204,000 jobs every month from August through November, an improvement from earlier this year.
The unemployment rate fell in November to 7 percent.
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