Jobless claims increased by 24,000 to 329,000 in the week ended April 19, the most in a month, the Labor Department reported.
The median forecast of 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for an increase to 315,000.
Claims dropped to the lowest level since 2007 at the start of the month, a sign the companies are seeing strong enough sales to retain staff.
“You’re hard-pressed to make much of weekly wiggles, we still expect that the broader trend in claims will continue to hover around 300,000,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC. “At the end of the day, it’s encouraging that the firing side of the equation continues to show improvement, and that’s what’s been happening, even with today’s number.”
Holidays such as Easter that occur during different weeks from one year to the next make it difficult for the Labor Department to adjust the data for these seasonal variations.
The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, climbed to 316,750 from 312,000 the week before, the lowest since 2007.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 61,000 to 2.68 million in the week ended April 12, the fewest since December 2007.