WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose to a four-month high last week, although the increase partly reflects seasonal distortions around the spring holidays.
The Labor Department says weekly applications increased 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000. That is the highest level since late November. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to 354,250.
A Labor Department spokesman says it can be difficult to seasonally adjust the figures during the Easter holiday because the timing of the holiday varies from year to year. Economists warned before the report that the data could be volatile.
Still, applications have increased for three straight weeks. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so increases suggest that companies may be cutting jobs. The government will issue the March employment report Friday.