WASHINGTON — The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped by 66,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 374,000. But the spike was largely because California processed a huge backlog of claims and the partial government shutdown prompted some contractors to cut jobs.
The sharp rise comes after the average fell to a 6½-year low last week. The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average rose 20,000 to 325,000.
A government spokesman said about half the weekly increase occurred in California, where official processed applications that were delayed several weeks ago by a computer upgrade. One-quarter of the increase reflected applications from employees at government contractors.
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