In the past month, the average number of people who applied for jobless benefits jumped to the highest level since last July, according to government data and reported by MarketWatch reporter Jeffry Bartash.

The four-week average of initial jobless claims rose by 3,000 to 278,750 in the seven days from Jan. 3 to Jan. 9, marking the highest level in six months. The monthly average bottomed out at a 42-year low of 259,250 in late October.

Initial jobless claims for the first full week of January, meanwhile, rose by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. 

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