updated 11/30/2006 8:59:39 AM ET 2006-11-30T13:59:39

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits posted an unexpectedly large increase last week.

The Labor Department reported that 357,000 newly laid off workers filed jobless claims, a rise of 34,000 from the previous week.

Many economists had been expecting claims to fall slightly. Labor Department analysts attributed part of the jump to seasonal adjustment factors.

The four-week moving average for claims, which is designed to smooth out week-to-week fluctuations, rose by 7,250 to 325,000, the highest level since June 3.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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