More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, though the number of applications was still consistent with steady hiring.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications rose 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000, the most in six weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 11,500 to 294,500.
Economists polled by Reuters expected a reading of 290,000 in the latest week.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The average has been near or below 300,000 since September, a historically low number that suggests companies are holding onto their staffs and may even be stepping up hiring.