Jobless benefit claims surge to 6-month high


WASHINGTON — Claims for U.S. jobless benefits jumped last week to the highest level in six months, providing the first statistical warning that the damage from the partial federal shutdown is starting to ripple through the economy.

While half the increase came from California as the state worked through a backlog after a switch in computer systems, another 15,000 reflected the furlough of nonfederal workers from employers losing government business, a Labor Department spokesman said. Applications for jobless insurance benefits surged by 66,000 in the week ended Saturday to 374,000, the most since late March.

The less volatile four-week average rose 20,000 to 325,000.