The number of people filing initial unemployment benefits last week jumped to an eight-month peak, partly due to a high number of New York State school districts taking spring recess at the same time, the U.S. Labor Department said.

Claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 474,000 last week, up 43,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 431,000, the department said. The weekly increase was the biggest since January 2009, which was shortly after Wall Street's meltdown in September.

A seasonal increase in claims was expected last week, but one factor that made it higher than expected was the school calendar. New York State allows certain workers, including bus drivers, crossing guards but not teachers, to file claims when there's an extended holiday or when school's off due to snowstorms.

Usually, those claims around spring and Easter breaks are spread over two weeks or so because school systems choose different weeks to take off. But this year Easter came unusually late, and a high number of school districts took off the same week, a federal labor official said.

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