Jobless claims drop as California's glitch dissipates

Job seekers line up to meet with recruiters during the Job Hunters Boot Camp in San Mateo, California.
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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits declined largely as expected last week as the impact of a California computer glitch worked its way out of the report.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined by 10,0000 to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were not revised. Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 339,000 last week.

A Labor Department analyst said California, which had been dealing with a backlog, reported no carryover in claims last week from previous weeks.

Technical problems as California converted to a new computer system have distorted the claims data since September, which had made it hard to get a clear read of labor market conditions.

A 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government had also pushed up claims in recent weeks as furloughed workers applied for benefits, but this appeared to be diminishing.

Claims filed by federal employees dropped 29,713 in the week ended Oct. 19 to 14,423. The shutdown ended on Oct. 17.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, increased 8,000 to 356,250. The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid rose by 31,000 to 2.881 million in the week ended Oct. 19.

--By Reuters