The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits increased just 4,000 last week, to a seasonally adjusted 352,000.
The Labor Department report released Thursday also noted that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose only 2,750, to 361,250. Job growth slowed sharply in March.
Employers added only 88,000 jobs last month, much lower than the average monthly gain of 220,000 from November through February. The unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent in March, down from 7.7 percent in February. But many analysts now expect growth will slow in the April-June quarter, partly because across-the-board government spending cuts kicked in March 1.