The number of new claims for unemployment benefits surged by 69,000 last week to 375,000, the highest level since the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

A payroll data report earlier this week reported that small and midsize businesses created 122,000 of 130,000 new jobs this month, suggesting most of last week's jobless claims stem from cuts at larger firms.

The largest increases in new claims were in Florida, Louisiana and Illinois, while the largest declines were in North Carolina, California and Pennsylvania.