Jobless claims came in at 230,000, higher than expected and where they were the prior week.
Economists had estimated initial claims for state unemployment benefits to decline to 215,000. The four-week average, considered a better measure of the labor market, increased to 212,500.
Jobless claims often show additional volatility around holiday periods. Claims in the past two weeks may have been influenced by the Easter and Passover holidays. Spring breaks for many schools across the U.S. may also have had an impact on claims.
The strike by employees at the New England supermarket chain Stop & Shop may also have boosted claims. The Labor Department specifically mentioned layoffs in retail in Massachusetts as boosting claims in the week ended April 20.
The biggest rises in claims for the most recent week were in New York and New Jersey.