The numbers: Initial jobless claims rose by 9,000 to 225,000 in the week ended December 24 , the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. 

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated new claims would rise 7,000 to 223,000 after claims rose 2,000 to 216,000 in the prior week.

Key details: The number of people already collecting jobless benefits rose by 41,000 to 1.71 million. This is the highest level since last February. Continuing claims are a sign that it is taking more time for workers to find new jobs after they have been laid off.

Big picture: Experts see some signs of cooling in the labor market, but not enough to stop the Federal Reserve from moving interest rates higher next year.

Overall, economists don’t read too much into claims around the holiday season. But it remains clear that companies are not laying off workers despite talk of a recession.

The Fed expects the unemployment rate to rise to 4.6% in 2023 from 3.7% in November.