The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to a five-week high, evidence that the job market remains sluggish.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased for the first time in a month to 374,500.
Applications had leveled off at about 370,000 for four weeks. That decline suggested that hiring could pick up in May. When applications drop below 375,000, it typically suggests that hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.
Thursday's figures don't figure into the May employment report, to be released Friday. That report is based on figures gathered in the middle of the month.