Jobless claims hit nearly 4-month high

Jobless claims rose to a nearly four-month high at the start of 2018, but the labor market is still quite strong.

The numbers: 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…

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