WASHINGTON -- 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 says the less volatile four-week average jumped by nearly 11,000 to 348,250.
California is still processing an applications delayed by a computer upgrade, a government spokesman said. The partial government shutdown appeared to have little impact on the figures, he added.
Weekly applications spiked three weeks ago as California began working through those claims and the shutdown caused temporary layoffs by government contractors. Applications have declined for two weeks since then.
In August, before all the distortions, applications had fallen to pre-recession levels. That indicated companies were cutting very few workers.