After falling by an average of 39,000 for the past two weeks, first-time claims rose by 25,000 to 410,000 in the week, the department said. The four-week rolling average rose by 1,750, to 417,750.
Economists expected about 401,000 initial claims to be filed.
The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday the unemployment rate, currently at 9 percent, would remain stubbornly high through 2012.
The Labor Department said the biggest increases in jobless benefits claims for the week ending Feb. 5 were reported by Michigan with 2,693 additional claims, North Carolina, which added 1,222 and New Jersey, which added 877.
For the week ending Feb. 5, the biggest decreases were reported by Florida with a decline of 4,542, followed by Texas with a decline of 3,657 and South Carolina with a decline of 2,780.