The number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 24,000 last week from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports. There were 399,000 such claims.
Also, "the 4-week moving average was 381,750, an increase of 7,750 from the previous week's revised average of 374,000," the agency says.
As The Associated Press reports, the increase "followed three months of steady declines that brought applications to the lowest level in more than three years."
Some of the rise was to be expected, AP adds:
"Applications typically soar in the first two weeks of the year. That's because companies are letting go of temporary workers brought on to help during the holidays. The department attempts to adjust for those patterns, but the data can be volatile."
In other economic news, the Census Bureau reports that retail sales rose 0.1 percent in December from November, but ended the year up 7.7 percent from December 2010.