A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the data and only claims for Puerto Rico had been estimated. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it strips out week-to-week volatility, rose 3,000 to 278,750 last week.
The labor market has largely shrugged off weakness in the economy, with nonfarm payrolls surging in December. Economic growth has been hit by a strong dollar, slowing global demand, efforts by businesses to slim an inventory bloat, and spending cuts by energy companies.
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 29,000 to 2.26 million in the week ended Jan. 2. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims increased 5,250 to 2.22 million.