Last week, more Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits, Bloomberg reported, which added to concerns that the labor market is weakening.

In the week ended Sept. 15, jobless claims fell by 3,000 to 382,000, according to Labor Department figures. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted that claims would drop to 375,000.

Economists say companies' fear of the "fiscal cliff," a series of tax increases and government spending cuts, may be stalling a pickup in hiring.

"The problems are more on the hiring side than the layoffs side," Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics Inc., told Bloomberg. "If they panic and start cutting workers, that would raise an immediate red flag because layoffs would be a recipe for another recession."

A Labor Department spokesman said there was nothing unusual in the data, adding that the states and territories that reported an increase in claims are areas affected by Tropical Storm Isaac two weeks ago.

The spokesman also said the Chicago teachers strike likely had no influence on the data.