The department revised the previous week's first-time claims upward by 3,000, from 338,000 to 341,000. The current week's total was 339,000, or 2,000 fewer than last week's revised total but 1,000 higher than the original estimate.
The four-week rolling average of first-time jobless claims rose by 8,500 to 357,250.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Dec. 21 were in Michigan, where claims rose by 4,865, New York, up by 3,284, and Oregon with a gain of 1,901.
The largest decreases were in California, off by 5,429, Illinois, down by 3,509 and Washington, with 1,930 fewer benefits claims.