The number of initial unemployment insurance claims grew by 2,000 to 484,000 in the week ending August 7, swelling more than expected after last week's initial figure was revised upward.

The four-week moving average rose to 473,500, from the previous week's revised average of 459,250, according to new data today from the US Department of Labor (DOL).

The weekly initial claims data is worse than the market consensus of 463,000. Economists surveyed by Market Watch had expected a 16,000 decline from last week's initial estimate of 479,000.

The weekly growth in claims appears to narrow -- to 2,000 -- after the DOL revised last week's figure was revised upward to 482,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.5% in the week ending July 31, a slight decrease of 10 basis points from the previous week's unrevised rate of 3.6%.

Of states that posted an increase of more than 1,000 claims last week, New Jersey, New York, and Georgia reported layoffs in the construction industry. New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania reported layoffs in the service industry.

Of states that posted a decrease of more than 1,000 claims last week, Florida, Illinois and Missouri reported fewer layoffs in the construction industry.

The rising initial jobless claims arrive as the Obama Administration continues to fund programs designed to aid consumers and mortgage borrowers affected by high unemployment rates.

Finance and housing regulators are preparing a combined $3bn of financial assistance to aid mortgage borrowers in states most affected by unemployment levels.

President Barack Obama in July signed the bill that extends unemployment benefits. The law extends the cutoff for benefits from June 2 to November 30. Unemployed citizens will continue to receive payments for 73 weeks after that, for a total of 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The law works in concert with Home Affordable Unemployment Program, which gives qualified homeowners the ability to borrow up to $50,000 to assist them with their mortgage, provided that they have a reasonable prospect of resuming payments within 24 months.

Write to Diana Golobay.