The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment-insurance benefits rose by 12,000 to 294,000 in the week that ended April 11, hitting the highest tally in six weeks and signaling some pickup in the pace of layoffs, according to Labor Department data released Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits to hold steady at 281,000 in the most recent weekly data. The four-week average of new claims rose 250 to 282,750. Also Thursday, the government said continuing claims fell by 40,000 to 2.27 million in the week that ended April 4. This is the lowest level since December 2000. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits. The four-week average of continuing claims fell 32,750 to 2.33 million. This is also the lowest level since December 2000.
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