The figure reached a higher than anticipated 460,000 in the week ending March 30, its highest level in four months, from the previous week’s revised figure of 396,000.
DoL officials attribute some of the increase to applications for a new federal program, part of the stimulus package recently passed by Congress.
The program extends unemployment benefits by 13 weeks, in an attempt to assist workers who lost their jobs in the wake of September’s terrorist attacks.
The DoL said the rise in filings is due in part to those who exhausted the original 26-week state unemployment insurance benefits period and are now reapplying for the extended program.
The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of joblessness because it irons out weekly fluctuations, increased to 403,750, from the previous week’s 384,000.
The data comes ahead of the much-anticipated monthly unemployment figures scheduled for release Friday.