Jobless claims for the week ending Aug. 11 jumped by 2,000 filings, with total unemployment filings reaching 366,000, the Labor Department said.
That compares to the previous week's revised figure of 364,000 filings.
But the four-week moving average of claims hit 363,750, a drop off of 5,500 applications from the previous week's average of 369,250.
"Initial claims did rise 2,000 in the Aug. 11 week, but the 366,000 level compares well with levels in July," said Econoday analysts.
"The four-week average is down a sizable 5,500 to 363,750 which is the second lowest level of the recovery, next only to 363,000 back in March. This average was in the mid-370,000 range through most of July which, compared with the current average, points to improvement for the August employment report."