U.S. initial jobless claims unexpectedly rose 16,000 to 357,000 in the most recent week reported, the U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday – the metric's highest level since mid-February. However, despite the jump, the current level suggests that while job growth may not be robust, the labor market continues to heal via reduced layoffs.

A Bloomberg News economists survey had expected jobless claims to dip to 340,000.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average also rose by 2,250 to 343,000. Economists emphasize the more-telling four-week moving average, as it smooths out anomalies due to holidays, strikes and weather-related layoffs, etc.

The Labor Department also said the four-week average of continuing claims fell by 13,000 to 3.07 million for the week ending March 9 – the latest week for which data is available. That’s the lowest four-week, continuing claims level since June 2008. A year ago, the four-week, continuing claims total was 3.37 million.