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Brian Ayala/MEDILL

After a two-week delay from the federal shutdown, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed that there were 3.9 million jobs openings in August, up 75,000 from July.

Initial jobless claims fell less than expected in week ended Oct. 19, impacted by California

by Brian Ayala
Oct 24, 2013

In the wake of the government shutdown, a steeper drop was forecasted in new applications for unemployment benefits, but California’s computer glitch has made it difficult for economists to interpret the data correctly.

Initial jobless claims fell by 12,000 to 350,000 for the week ended Oct. 19, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday, higher than the economists’ consensus estimate of 340,000, according to Bloomberg.

“It’s just uncertainty in all the markets, with corporations and firms unwilling to hire, but they’re not in a bad position where they’re firing,” said David Nice, associate economist at Mesirow Financial.

He said that normally with weekly claims in a range of 300,000 to 350,000, monthly job creation would be accelerating to around 200,000 nonfarm payroll jobs. On Tuesday, the Labor Dept. reported September nonfarm payrolls rose a tepid 148,000.

First-time unemployment insurance claims filed by federal employees decreased to 44,132 from 70,071 the week before.

The four-week moving average of jobless claims, a statistic used to balance out volatility in the data, increased by 10,750 to 348,250.

“The unemployment claims are somewhat volatile and much of it has been due to California with their computer system upgrade after Labor Day,” Tom Stengle of the Department of Labor said in an interview. 

Thursday’s report on Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, delayed  two weeks by the partial federal shutdown, showed that job openings rose 75,000 in August to 3.9 million. Employers hired 4.5 million workers in August, virtually unchanged from the previous month.

The number of job openings in the Midwest had the highest growth rate in the nation with 13.8 percent, according to the report.