More people sought unemployment benefits last week, the second rise in three weeks, a sign the job market's recovery is slow and uneven.
The Labor Department says applications for unemployment benefits jumped 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000 for the week ending April 23. That's the highest total since late January.
The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 408,500, its third straight rise and the first time it has topped 400,000 in two months.
Applications near 375,000 are consistent with sustained job creation. Applications peaked during the recession at 659,000.
Some economists predicted that auto factory shutdowns, stemming from supply disruptions in Japan, would cause applications to rise. But a Labor Department analyst said only one state reported auto-related layoffs and the increase was modest.