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MW: Jobless claims climb 10,000 to 247,000 in first week of 2017
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in the first week of 2017 rose by 10,000 to 247,000, but they remain near the lowest level in decades.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast initial claims to climb to a seasonally adjusted 258,000 from a revised 237,000 in the prior week.

Some people likely delayed filing claims between the Christmas and New Year’s day holidays, leading to the bump up in the week stretching from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7


Yet initial claims have been under 300,000 for 97 straight weeks, a streak last replicated in 1970 that shows no sign of ending. Many companies complain about a shortage of good help for hire and they are reluctant to let workers go amid stiff competition for labor.

Last Friday, the government said the economy added 156,000 new jobs in December to mark the sixth straight year in which the U.S. created more than 2 million new jobs. The unemployment rate hovered near an eight-year-low of 4.7%.

The less volatile four-week average of initial claims declined by 1,750 to 256,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. Jobless claims usually swing up and down in the period that stretches from Thanksgiving to early January, as many Americans move in and out of the workforce during the holiday shopping season.

Continuing jobless claims dropped by 16,000 to 2.1 million in the final week of 2016. That’s down from 2.25 million at the start of last year.

These claims, reported with a one-week delay, reflect the number of people already collecting unemployment checks.