Job fair

Bob Truncali of DeVry College, left, talks with job seeker James Echeverry at a job fair in New York on May 13. (Craig Warga / Bloomberg / May 13, 2014)

Initial jobless claims jumped by 28,000 after hitting a seven-year low, but remained at a level consistent with moderate labor market growth, according to government figures released Thursday.

About 326,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, the Labor Department said. Analysts had expected initial claims to rise, but only to about 310,000.

The previous week's figure of 298,000, which was revised up slightly, was the best since May 2007.

In more detailed data for that week, the Labor Department said  Thursday that the number of people receiving unemployment benefits fell to 2.65 million. That was the lowest level since December 2007, when the Great Recession began.

Weekly claims can be volatile. The four-week average, which smoothes out some of the variation, was down by 1,000 last week, to 322,500.

Claims this year have been running well below the 350,000 weekly level that economists say indicate moderate job growth.

In April, the economy added a robust 288,000 net new jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.3%, its lowest level since September 2008.