Last week corresponded to the period the Labor Department will survey businesses to calculate the payroll data for February. The average last week was little changed from January's 360,000 for the comparable period.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 11,000 to 3.15 million in the week ended Feb. 9. The continuing claims figure doesn't include Americans receiving extended unemployment benefits under federal programs.
Those people collecting emergency and extended payments plunged by about 233,000 to 1.85 million in the week ended Feb. 2.
Eleven states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 42 reported an increase. These data are reported with a one-week lag.
Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth, measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report, accelerates.
Bob Evans Farms Inc. implemented a hiring freeze in May and is feeling the effects of higher taxes and gas prices. The Columbus, Ohio-based chain is rehabbing its family restaurants, expanding takeout service and hawking its low-cost meals to boost business.
"There's not much we can do about the economy," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Davis said on a Feb. 20 earnings call. "Even though we saw some hiccups, we're still encouraged on what we're able to control."