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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week by 20,000, the largest jump in a month, the Labor Department reported today.

The bigger-than-expected increase pushed total new claims to 350,000 last week and provided fresh evidence that the labor market is still under pressure even though the economic recovery is about to celebrate its third anniversary.

The increase of 20,000 was sharply higher than the 6,000 gain that many private economists had been expecting and was the biggest one-week rise since a jump of 21,000 claims in the week of Sept. 25.

The four-week moving average for claims, which is intended to smooth out some of the volatility from the week-to-week changes, fell slightly to 343,250 last week, down from 348,750 the previous week. It was the lowest level since mid-September.

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