WASHINGTON (March 28, 2013)--The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped by 16,000 last week, the second straight weekly increase, but the longer-term trend in layoffs remained consistent with an improved job market, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.
The Labor Department says applications increased to a seasonally adjusted 357,000 for the week ending March 23, up from 341,000 the previous week, which was revised slightly higher.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 2,250 to 343,000, which is only slightly higher than the previous week's five-year low of 340,750.
Economists pay closer attention to the four-week average.
Applications, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been declining steadily since November, coinciding with solid job growth.