WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. unemployment surged 62,000 in the Jan. 17 survey week to 589,000, matching the 26-year high reported in late December, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

The report, described by a Labor analyst as “fairly straightforward” with no state figures, estimated the adjusted initial claims figure at well above the 550,000 expected by economists in a median forecast of a survey conducted by Market News International.

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