The number of people who applied for new U.S. unemployment benefits climbed by 13,000 to 336,000 in the week ended Aug. 17 but remained near a post-recession low, according to the latest government data. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to rise to 330,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The average of new claims over the past month, a more reliable gauge than the volatile weekly number, fell for the sixth straight week and touched the lowest level since November 2007, one month before the Great Recession started. The four-week average dropped by 2,250 to 330,500, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. Continuing claims, however, increased by 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.99 million in the week ended Aug. 10. Continuing claims, released with a two-week lag, reflect the number of people already receiving benefits. Initial claims from two weeks ago, meanwhile, were revised up to 323,000 from an original reading of 320,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level.