The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, while the tally of those remaining on the benefit rolls hit its highest mark in more than four years, the government said on Thursday.
Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits climbed to 372,000 in the week ended May 24 from an upwardly revised 368,000 for the prior week, the Labor Department said.
Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting 370,000 in new claims, up from the originally reported 365,000 in the prior week.
The four-week average of new jobless claims, which is considered a more accurate measurement of employment trends since it evens out weekly volatility, dipped to 370,500 in the week ended May 24 from a revised 373,000 in the previous week.
In a sign that unemployed workers were having a tough time finding a new job, the number of people remaining on the benefit rolls rose by 36,000 to 3.10 million in the week ended May 17, the latest period for which figures were available.
That was the highest level since the week ended February 14, 2004, when it reached 3.17 million.