First-time claims for unemployment insurance surged to a 6-month high of 374,000 last week, up from 308,000 before the government shutdown, the Employment and Training Administration said Thursday. However, the spike is largely attributed to a backlog in California caused by a computer glitch.
A Labor Department spokesperson told CNBC California's trouble converting to a new processing system accounted for nearly half of the 66,000 claims. Another quarter of the claims come from non-federal government workers furloughed by the shutdown.
In September, jobless benefits claims dropped to a 7-year low when two states were unable to fully process their filings due to computer system upgrades.
A Reuters poll of economists predicted first-time unemployment applications would jump to 310,000 in this latest report.
Economists looking for a clear picture of the job market's state of health will continue to be fogged by the Labor Department's indefinite delay of the September jobs report, originally scheduled for an Oct. 4 release.
While the less-volatile four-week moving average for initial claims jumped from 305,000 on Sept. 28 to 325,000 on Oct. 5, the number of Americans already receiving unemployment benefits dropped by 16,000 between the weeks ending Sept. 21 and Sept. 28.