The number of U.S. workers filing for first-time jobless benefits rose 7,000 last week, pushing the four-week moving average of new claims to its highest level in more than a year, a government report showed on Thursday.

Initial jobless claims hit a seasonally adjusted 338,000 for the week ended Feb. 24, the Labor Department said.

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The claims figures for the week ended Feb. 17 were downwardly revised to 331,000.

Economists polled ahead of the report were expecting claims to fall to 325,000 in the latest week.

The four-week moving average of new claims, a more reliable measure of employment conditions because it irons out weekly volatility, rose for the fourth consecutive week and to the highest level since the week of Oct. 29, 2005.

The four-week average rose 7,500 to 335,250 from 327,750 in the previous week.

The number of workers continuing on unemployment benefits after drawing an initial week of aid, surged 134,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.64 million in the week ended Feb. 17, the most recent week these figures were available, the highest level since 2.66 million in the week of Dec. 24, 2005.

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