More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment (USURTOT) benefits last week as California continued to work through a backlog.
Jobless claims decreased by 12,000 to 350,000 in the week ended Oct. 19 from a revised 362,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 340,000. Applications in California remained elevated and analysts weren’t able to determine how many non-federal workers filed due to the government shutdown, a Labor Department spokesman said as the figures were released to the press.
Firings may gradually diminish as a backlog of claims processing in California and the end to the closure of government offices push and pull on the figures. A slower-than-expected pace of hiring in September may reflect companies’ hesitance to ramp up payrolls as lawmakers in Washington feuded over the budget and now prepare for the next round of negotiations.
“California and the shutdown are still going to be elevating claims numbers,” Guy Berger, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “Layoffs are going to subside once we head to the very end of the year. It’s really a question of whether hiring can pick up.”
Another report showed the trade deficit in the U.S. was little changed in August as imports and exports stalled, indicating a loss of momentum in global economic growth. The gap increased 0.4 percent to $38.8 billion from a revised $38.6 billion in July that was smaller than previously reported, the Commerce Department reported. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 71 economists called for a $39.4 billion deficit.
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