The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped an unexpectedly large 25,000 last week, a government report showed on Thursday, while the number of longer-term unemployed fell to the lowest since April 2001.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance aid rose to 349,000 in the Thanksgiving Day (search) shortened week ended Nov. 27, from a revised 324,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said.

Wall Street analysts had forecast a rise to 330,000 from the originally reported 323,000 in the week ended Nov. 20.

A Labor Department spokesman said no specific factors came into play to push the weekly claims higher, but noted it is not unusual for weekly numbers to experience some volatility during the holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving.

The closely watched four-week moving average, which smooths weekly fluctuations to provided a clearer picture of underlying trends, also rose, climbing to 336,500 from a four-year low of 332,250 in the previous week.

The total number of people who remain on the benefit rolls after claiming an initial week of aid fell 20,000 to 2.72 million in the week ended Nov. 20, the latest week for which data are available, and to its lowest since April 2001.