WASHINGTON — Initial claims for state unemployment rose by 35,000 in the Jan. 31 week to a massive 626,000, eclipsing the 26-year high reported in late December, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

This is the highest number of initial claims since Oct. 30, 1982, when 637,000 initial claims where made. A Labor Department analyst described the report as clean, with no administrative backlog from any of the states reporting and only data for Puerto Rico estimated.

A Market News International survey had expected the initial claims level to be 595,000 this week.

This week’s claims follows an upward revision to 591,000 in the Jan. 24 week from 588,000.

Continuing claims hit record levels for the second week in a row, rising by 20,000 in the Jan. 24 week to of 4.788 million. The Labor Department said the Jan. 24 figure is the highest figure since the data series began in 1967.

The U.S. labor force has grown since 1982 — the year of the previous high — and from when the series began in 1967.

Also in the Jan. 24 week, the seasonally adjusted insured employment rate remained at 3.6%, a cyclical high last matched on Aug. 27, 1983.

The four-week moving average for initial claims in the Jan. 31 week rose by 39,000 to 582,250, the highest since Dec. 4, 1982.

— Market News International

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