No respite for the labor market, as first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose 12,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 669,000 in the week ending March 28, the Labor Department said Thursday. The week's reading is up 72 percent from the same period last year and marks the highest level of initial jobless claims since October of 1982. The number of people still on the benefits roll after collecting at least one week of aid also jumped, from 161,000 to a record high of 5.73 million in the week ending March 21, indicating that job openings are few and far between as companies are forced to cut costs time and again. The four week moving average of initial claims, which can sometimes smooth volatility, increased 6,500 to 656,750. The insured unemployment rate -- the proportion of covered workers who are receiving benefits -- rose to 4.3 percent, the highest reading since May of 1983. The largest increases in initial claims were seen in California -- where 6,720 people filed a claim in the week ending March 21 -- Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa. The largest decreases were seen in Texas -- where initial claims dropped by 4,822 -- New York, Tennessee, Illinois and Virginia. The jobless claims data comes on the heels of a report from the Commerce Department that showed big-ticketed manufactured goods increased in February for the first time in six months -- maybe early signs of better things to come said some industry participants. Nonetheless, the jobless data indicates the challenges that remain ahead of the nation, as it trecks down the road to recovery. "Claims are typically one of the very first indicators to signal economic recovery and there is no sign of that in the data yet," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, according to a Bloomberg report. Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade