The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 17,000 last week to the highest level in two months.
The Labor Department says the increase brings the seasonally-adjusted number of new claims to 327,000. That's higher than expected.
Some of the increase is blamed on filings by people who were not able to get to unemployment offices the previous week, when they were closed on the Presidents Day holiday.
The four-week moving average of new claims, intended to smooth
out week-to-week fluctuations, rose by nearly 5,000 to more
than 312,000. In the previous week, it had declined to the lowest level in more than four years.