The Labor Department says the four week average of applications, a less volatile measure, increased 3,500 to a seasonally adjusted 336,750.
The average is roughly in line with pre-recession levels and suggests that, despite last week's rise, companies are cutting few jobs. Applications are a proxy for layoffs.
Last week's figure may also have been pushed up by cold weather, which can cause construction firms and other companies to stop work.
A total of 3.52 million Americans received benefits as of Jan. 25 — the latest data available — up from 3.47 million the previous week.