By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER AP Economics Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — WASHINGTON, D.C. — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 last week, though the total was elevated for the third straight week by technical problems in California.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average jumped by nearly 11,000 to 348,250.
Weekly applications have been inflated for the past three weeks, largely because California has been processing a huge number of applications that were delayed because of a computer upgrade. The 16-day partial government shutdown has also lifted claims this month because a number of government contractors were laid off temporarily.
A government spokesman said the backlog in California affected last week’s figures but noted shutdown’s impact appears to be fading.
Applications have declined for the past two weeks, suggesting California is working through its backlog.