There were 326,000 first-time claims filed for unemployment insurance last week, up by 16,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reported Thursday morning.
Although the number increased, claims remained at the lower end of the range they've been in for the past year and were running at a pace close to where they were before the economy sank into its latest recession in December 2007.
It was the last major data dump before Friday's Bureau of Labor Statistics report on job growth and the unemployment rate in March. According to Bloomberg News, economists expect to hear tomorrow that there were 200,000 jobs added to public and private payrolls last month. The unemployment rate likely stayed around the 6.7 percent level it touched in February.
On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report indicated that there were 191,000 jobs added to private companies' payrolls last month. That report sometimes signals what the BLS will say in its broader look at job growth.