Wednesday November 25th, 2015 1:22PM

Jobless claims jump to 374,000 due to backlog

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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 Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average rose 20,000 to 325,000. The sharp increase in both the weekly figures and the four-week average comes after applications hovered near a 6-year low the previous week.

A government spokesman said that about half the weekly increase occurred in California, where officials processed applications that were delayed several weeks by a computer upgrade. One-quarter of the increase reflected applications from employees at government contractors.

Federal workers temporarily laid off by the shutdown may also file for benefits. But their numbers are reported separately and published a week later than the other applications.

Lockheed Martin said Monday that it is furloughing about 2,400 employees. That's lower than the 3,000 employees the company initially said it would furlough because Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has recalled most of the Pentagon's civilian employees to work. United Technologies cancelled a planned furlough because of Hagel's announcement.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Before last week, they had declined steadily over the past three months. That's a sign companies are cutting fewer workers.

Falling applications are typically followed by more hiring. But there aren't any signs that that has happened yet. Instead, job gains have slowed in recent months.

It's not clear if hiring trends changed last month. The government was unable to issue the September employment report because of the shutdown.

However, last week payroll provider ADP said businesses added just 166,000 jobs in September, evidence that hiring remains sluggish. The ADP figures usually diverge from the government's more comprehensive employment report.

Analysts forecast that the economy was growing slowly before the shutdown. They predict economic growth at a 1.5 percent to 2 percent annual rate from July through September. That's generally not fast enough to spur much hiring.

Many economists had forecast that growth would pick up to an annual rate of 2.5 percent to 3 percent from October through December. But the shutdown will likely shave about 0.15 percentage point from that figure for each week it lasts.

© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Man faces charges in Hall subdivision home invasion
A 20-year-old Gainesville man faces charges in an early September home invasion in Hall County.
12:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Police probe killing after man found dead inside Lawrenceville home
Police are investigating the killing of a man whose body was found inside a home in the Lawrenceville area outside Atlanta.
By Associated Press
12:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
US sales of new homes rise 10.7 percent in October, propelled by buying in Northeast
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new homes recovered in October after suffering a steep drop in September, returning to this year's trend of an improving market for real estate developers and builders.The C...
11:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
Overnight fire damages home
An early morning fire damaged a double wide mobile home Wednesday, according to Hall County Fire Services officials.
8:39AM ( 4 hours ago )
To grandmother's house: Thanksgiving getaway begins with gas prices low, terrorism fears high
LOS ANGELES (AP) — That other Thanksgiving tradition — congested highways and jammed airports — is getting underway with gas prices low and terrorism fears high.An estimated 46.9 million Americans are...
7:31AM ( 5 hours ago )