While jobless claims mostly have been declining in recent months, a report Thursday from the Labor Department shows an increase of 7,000 to 480,000.
The U.S. jobless rate is at 10 percent, and unemployment concerns prompted the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a new $154 billion aid program on Wednesday. The bill passed by a five-vote margin, and still must be considered by the Senate and signed by the President before it becomes law.
The House bill would extend unemployment benefits and fund a health insurance program for the unemployed.
It also includes almost $50 billion for infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, and more than $20 billion to help financially distressed states avoid laying off teachers and other key employees.
Democrats say some of the funding will come from money first set aside for the Wall Street bailout. Republicans say that money should be used instead to cut the huge U.S. budget deficit.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.