WASHINGTON (October 31, 2013) The number of workers applying for unemployment benefits fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a sign that employers are laying off very fewer workers, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.
The Labor Department's first-time application figures were largely free of the distortions that elevated the data earlier in the month.
The 16-day partial government shutdown and backlogs in California due to computer upgrades still inflated the four-week average.
The average rose 8,000 to 356,250, the highest since April.
Still, those distortions are no longer affecting the weekly data, a government spokesman said.
The partial shutdown ended Oct. 16.
Applications are now close to the pre-recession levels that were reached in August, before California's computer problems distorted the data.