After two straight weeks in which the figures tracked near their lowest levels in seven years, the number of first-time applications for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week.
The Employment and Training Administration says there were 329,000 such claims filed, up by 24,000 from the previous week's slightly revised figure.
Reuters says that even though the latest number was above expectations, "the rise probably does not suggest a shift in labor market conditions as the underlying trend continued to point to strength.... The increase probably reflects difficulties adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations given a late Easter this year and the timing of school spring breaks."
Bloomberg News makes much the same point: "The Easter holiday period made it more difficult to adjust the data for seasonal variations. ... Looking beyond the swings, firings have slowed, which probably means employers are gaining confidence the world's largest economy is strengthening."