The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000. The increase occurred after applications plummeted to match a 15-year low in the previous week.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 3,000 to 282,250. The average has fallen 11.8 per cent in the past year.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the steep decline in the last 12 months suggests that companies are cutting fewer jobs.
The number of people receiving benefits fell to 2.3 million, the fewest in more than 14 years. That reflects the decline in layoffs and the end of extended benefits a year ago.