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.

This week’s level of initial claims matched the 589,000 figure reported on Dec. 20, which was the highest level seen since Nov. 27, 1982, when the figure was 612,000.

This rise in initial jobless claims follows a small upward revision to 527,000 in the Jan. 10 week from 524,000.

A comparison of employment survey weeks shows initial claims up 33,000 from the Dec. 13 level of 556,000.

Seasonal adjustment factors for the Jan. 17 week had expected a 28% decline or about 269,000 unadjusted claims, but the actual figure was a decline of 19.6% or 187,905.

A Labor Department analyst said the harsh seasonal adjustment factor is part of an annual year-end pattern from November to January.

Continuing claims rose by 97,000 to 4.607 million in the Jan. 10.

— Market News International

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