There were 385,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up by 28,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.
The news follows Wednesday's report of slower-than-expected job growth in the private sector: The ADP National Employment Report estimated that businesses added just 158,000 jobs last month.
And the word that jobless claims have touched a four-month high comes just before Friday's anxiously anticipated report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It will release data on the March unemployment rate and job growth in both the public and private sectors.
According to Reuters, economists expect to hear that there were a relatively modest 200,000 jobs added to those payrolls last month and that the unemployment rate remained at 7.7 percent.
All in all, Reuters adds, the latest jobs data suggest that "the labor market recovery lost some steam in March."