WASHINGTON - The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the highest since March. The increase may reflect volatility around the Thanksgiving holidays.
The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average jumped 13,250 to 343,250, the second straight increase.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Last month, they fell to nearly the lowest level in six years, as companies cut fewer jobs. But two weeks ago, they surged 64,000 to 369,000.
Economists dismissed the spike, saying it likely reflected a later the Thanksgiving holiday, which can distort the government's seasonal adjustments. But if the trend continues it would be a troubling sign of rising layoffs.