Initial U.S. jobless claims climbed by 11,000 to a nearly four-month high of 261,000 in the seven days ended Jan. 6. That's the highest level since mid-September and well above the 248,000 forecast of economists surveyed by MarketWatch.
The more stable monthly average of claims increased by 9,000 to 250,750, the government said Thursday. That’s the highest level since early October.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, fell by 35,000 to 1.87 million.
Claims often exhibit big ups and downs after the end of the holiday season. Workers hired for temporary jobs are let go and state employment offices take longer to process applications.
New York showed a particularly big increase in claims in the first week of 2018. They more than doubled to nearly 50,000 in raw or unadjusted terms.