WASHINGTON — The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months. The surge is evidence of how volatile the job market remains, even as the economy grows.

WASHINGTON — The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months. The surge is evidence of how volatile the job market remains, even as the economy grows.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 471,000 last week, up by 25,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first increase in five weeks and the biggest jump since a gain of 40,000 in February.

The total was the highest since new claims reached 480,000 on April 10. It also pushed the average for the last four weeks to 453,500.

"Although no one expects this volatile series to go in one direction every single week, this is clearly a disappointment," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

In a separate report, a private research group said its index of leading economic indicators dipped slightly in April. It was the first decline in more than a year. Six of the 10 components on the Conference Board's index deteriorated. Among them: U.S. residents filed fewer applications to build homes; vendors were slower in delivering supplies to companies; the unemployed filed more claims for jobless aid; and consumers' confidence dropped.

Lawmakers responded Thursday to the persistently high jobless rate by announcing a deal to extend expanded unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed through the end of the year. Laid off workers would also continue to get subsidies to buy health insurance through the COBRA program. House leaders plan to vote on the bill Friday, with the Senate voting next week.

Employers are hiring again, but not at levels needed to make a dent in the unemployment rate, which increased in April to 9.9 percent. An improving economy has lured those who had given up looking for work back into the labor market.

The jump in the unemployment rate came even though payrolls rose last month by 290,000 jobs, the biggest gain in four years.