Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) — Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as employers retained staff to meet domestic demand for goods and services ahead of the holiday season.

Jobless claims decreased by 17,000 to 297,000 in the week ended Nov. 29 from 314,000 in the prior period, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The median forecast of 46 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decline to 295,000.

The drop in the number of applications back under 300,000 will help ease concern that the pace of job market improvement was cooling heading into the holiday-shopping season. A Labor Department report tomorrow is projected to show payrolls climbed in November by more than 200,000 workers for a 10th consecutive month and the unemployment rate held at a six-year low.

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