Unemployment aid applications drop to 350,000

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 23: An elderly South Korean job seeker fills out job applications at an elderly persons' job fair on September 23, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea. When the percentage of those aged 65 or older to the total population is greater than 7%, the population is called an Ageing Society. South Korea has the world's fastest ageing population which could signal a death knell for South Korea's economic progress. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) Chung Sung-Jun

WASHINGTON The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 last week, though the total was elevated for the third straight week by technical problems in California.

The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average jumped by nearly 11,000 to 348,250.

California is still processing an applications delayed by a computer upgrade, a government spokesman said. The partial government shutdown appeared to have little impact on the figures, he added.

Weekly applications spiked three weeks ago as California began working through those claims and the shutdown caused temporary layoffs by government contractors. Applications have declined for two weeks since then.

In August, before all the distortions, applications had fallen to pre-recession levels. That indicated companies were cutting very few workers.

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