Initial jobless claims rose to 397,000 in the week ending March 5, up 26,000 from the week before the Labor Department reported on March 10.
Claims continue to hover around their lowest levels since 2008, although Wall Street had expected last weeks number to be slightly lower, at 382,000, according to the consensus estimate.
Last week the Labor Department reported the unemployment rate dipped to 8.9% in February from 9% the month before, while the economy created a solid 192,000 jobs.
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has said there are increasing "grounds for optimism" that the ailing jobs market will pick up this year.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011