APPLICATIONS JUMP: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose 32,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, the most since late March. Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs.
TREND IS LOWER: The jump came after applications had fallen to a five-year low in recent weeks. And the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose only slightly last week, to 339,250. That level is consistent with steady job gains.
VOLATILITY: The weekly applications figures can fluctuate widely and many economists focus on the four-week average. That has fallen almost 9 percent in the past six months.