The number of U.S. workers continuing to claim jobless benefits jumped to a record high in the first week of February, the Labor Department data showed on Thursday, while new claims for unemployment insurance last week was unchanged at a very high level.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits were a seasonally adjusted 627,000 in the week ended February 14 unchanged from an upwardly revised 627,000 the previous week. According to department data, new claims hovered close to a 26-year high.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 620,000 new claims versus a previously reported figure of 623,000 the week before.

The number of people remaining on the benefits rolls after drawing an initial week of aid surged 170,000 to 4.987 million in the week ended Feb 7, the most recent week for which the data is available. That was the highest reading on records dating back to 1967.

Analysts had estimated so-called continued claims would be 4.86 million from a previously reported 4.81 million the prior week.

The four-week moving average of new jobless claims, a better gauge of underlying labor trends because it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose to 619,000, the highest since 1982, from 608,500 the prior week.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Neil Stempleman)