Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 214,000 for the week ended Oct. 6, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 206,000 in the latest week from 207,000 a week earlier.
The Labor Department said claims for South and North Carolina were affected by Hurricane Florence, which lashed the region in mid-September. The department also said claims for Virginia and Puerto Rico were estimated.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 2,500 to 209,500 last week.
The labour market is viewed as being near or at full employment, which many economists believe is helping U.S. wages grow a little more quickly and fuelling expectations the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates again in December.
The Fed has already raised rates three times this year.
Thursday's claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 4,000 to 1.66 million for the week ended Sept. 29. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims decreased 10,000 to 1.66 million, the lowest level since August 1973.
(Reporting by Jason Lange Editing by Paul Simao)
By Jason Lange