The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless compensation gently rose 1,000 last week, the government said Thursday.

First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits (search) rose to 323,000 in the week ended May 21 from a revised 322,000 in the prior week and well below the 344,000 reported for the same period a year ago, the Labor Department (search) said.

The rise in new claims was just short of Wall Street economists' expectations for an increase to 325,000 from the department's original measure of 321,000 in the week ended May 14.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors behind the rise.

The closely watched four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, climbed for the third straight week, rising to 330,500 from 330,000.

The number of people remaining on benefit rolls after drawing a week of aid fell to 2.57 million in the week ended May 14, the latest week for which data are available.