The number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 6,000 last week to 322,000, the third straight week of gains and the highest level in nearly two months, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

For the week ending Aug. 4, the nation's insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 1.9 percent, representing 2.567 million people collecting benefits. Continuing claims are up by 3 percent from the same period last year.

The biggest increases in new claims last week were in Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and New Jersey, while the biggest declines were in California, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Published on: Aug 16, 2007