Jobless Claims Edge Higher to Start Year

The number of Americans who applied for first-time unemployment benefits rose last week from near a four-decade low, but the figure remains at a level indicating steady job creation.

Initial jobless claims, a measure of how many workers were laid off, increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000 in the week ended Jan. 7, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected 255,000 initial claims.

Jobless claims for the previous week were revised higher by 2,000 to 237,000. That was still the second-lowest reading since 1973.

The data indicates layoffs remain subdued despite recent announcements from Macy's Inc., Sears Holdings Inc. and other large employers that they are reducing staff.

"Jobless claims remain in a very constructive range and are still evidence of an environment in which turnover is low and employers are generally content to maintain and expand their payrolls," said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

The four-week moving average of adjusted claims, which evens out weekly volatility in the data, fell by 1,750 to 256,500 last week.

--Eric Morath


New Hearing Ordered In Christie Case

A New Jersey judge reversed a municipal court's finding of probable cause in an official-misconduct complaint against Gov. Chris Christie that stemmed from the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal.

Bergen County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol also denied a request to dismiss the complaint and ordered a new municipal court hearing on the matter.

Mr. Christie "was improperly denied counsel at a critical stage," Judge Mizdol wrote. She said that at the municipal court's hearing the citizen activist who filed the complaint was the only witness and Mr. Christie's lawyers hadn't participated.

An attorney for Mr. Christie didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The complaint, filed in September by citizen activist Bill Brennan, accused the governor of official misconduct for failing to order his subordinates to reopen local access lanes at the bridge.

A Bergen County judge in October found probable cause for the official-misconduct complaint, which allowed it to move forward. Mr. Christie's attorneys asked the judge to dismiss it.

Mr. Brennan said Thursday the governor's attorneys "committed an epic strategic blunder in moving to dismiss these charges."

--Corinne Ramey

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 13, 2017 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)

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