APPLICATIONS JUMP: The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week by 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the third straight increase. That's the highest level since late November.

TEMPORARY FACTORS: A Labor Department spokesman says the figures were partly affected by the Easter holiday. The holiday's timing varies from year to year, which makes it difficult to adjust for school closings and other seasonal factors that can alter the data.

SIGNS OF CAUTION: The recent increases suggest companies may be starting to cut jobs, possibly because of steep government spending cuts that began March 1. But economists said they want to see more data before concluding the job market's trajectory has changed.


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