WASHINGTON (10/18/13)--Initial jobless benefits claims for the week ending Oct. 12 fell to 358,000, down from the previous week's total of 373,000, according to the Department of Labor.
The shutdown-affected figure is still higher than expected, with the drop primarily resulting from California working through a backlog of unprocessed claims after switching computer systems.
Roughly half of the 60,000 spike in claims last week can be attributed to the California processing bottleneck, said the Department of Labor. While it's unclear whether or not the state has caught up to claims it temporarily set aside during technological upgrades (Moody's Economy.com Oct. 17), the median forecast of 46 economists polled by Bloomberg predicted a decrease to 335,000 (Bloomberg Oct 17).
The four-week moving average of initial jobless benefits claims also increased, by 11,750 to 336,500.
Furloughed federal employees can apply for unemployment insurance, but they're tallied in a separate survey. Contractor furloughs do count, however, and Maryland and Virginia were among states with the largest spike in jobless benefits claims for the week ending Oct.5.