Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 16,000 to 357,000 in the previous week and that figure was left unrevised. That put the two-week gain at 44,000.
The four-week rolling average for the week increased by 11,250 to 354,250.
The largest increases in initial benefits claims for the week ending March 23 were in California, up by 8,712, and Texas, where claims rose by 2,736.
The largest decreases were in Virginia, where claims dropped by 1,117 and Massachusetts with 804 fewer claims than the previous week.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]