The sharp rise comes after the average fell to a 6 1/2-year low last week. The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average rose 20,000 to 325,000.
A government spokesman said about half the weekly increase occurred in California, where official processed applications that were delayed several weeks ago by a computer upgrade. One-quarter of the increase reflected applications from employees at government contractors.
Federal workers temporarily laid off by the shutdown may also file for benefits. But those figures won't be published until next week.