There was a jump in applications for weekly unemployment benefits last week, rising by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 399,000.
The increase was expected following the holiday season because companies usually let thousands of workers go who were hired for the Christmas rush.
Still, economists point out the increase follows three months of steady declines which brought applications to their lowest level in more than three years.
That's a "clear indication that the pace of layoffs has slowed," said Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics, told The Associated Press.
"We would not read too much into the rebound in initial jobless claims," Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.
"There always problems in seasonally adjusting the weekly data around the turn of the year. As it stands at the moment, the trend in claims remains downwards," he wrote.
More people, however, are receiving jobless benefits. The total unemployment benefit rolls increased to 7.3 million in the week ending Dec. 24, which is the latest data available.