Unemployment aid applications surge

WASHINGTON – The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 68,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 368,000, the largest increase in more than a year.

The surge in first-time applications could be a troubling sign if it lasts. But it likely reflects the difficulty adjusting for delays after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average rose 6,000 to 328,750. That is close to pre-recession levels.