The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid rose sharply last week as California processed a backlog of recent applications and the partial federal government shutdown prompted some government contractors to dismiss employees, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.
In the week ending Oct. 5, the advance figure of seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 66,000 to 374,000, the highest since late March, from the previous week's unrevised figure of 308,000.
A computer system update in California was responsible for half the jump in the weekly applications, and the partial federal government shutdown accounted for about a quarter of the increase, according to a Labor Department spokesman.
Any claims filed by the 800,000 furloughed federal workers due to the shutdown will be reported separately and will not influence the weekly reading, the Labor Department said last week.
The four-week moving average, which helps smooth out week-to- week volatility, also rose by 20,000 to 325,000, up from a six-year low in the previous week.
The advance figure of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Sept. 28 stood at 2.905 million, down 16,000 from the previous week.