Initial applications for US unemployment benefits jumped last week, suggesting a surge in layoffs and adding to concerns that the economy could be weakening.

First-time claims increased by 13,000 to 242,000 in the week ended June after similar rises in each of the two prior weeks, bringing claims to the highest level since August 2023, according to Labor Department data released Thursday. The median forecast in an Econoday survey of analysts was for 222,000.

Initial claims are a proxy for layoffs. The three-week rise in claims suggests that companies may be reducing headcounts after the economy appeared to slow in recent months.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week delay, rose by 30,000 to 1.82 million. The rise indicates that workers who have lost their jobs are having more difficulty getting new positions.