People wait in line to enter a job fair in New York August 15, 2011. (Photo : Reuters)
Along with thousands of furloughed workers and the closures of national parks and zoos, now the U.S. government shutdown can also be blamed for causing a surge in unemployment claims.
For the first time since Superstorm Sandy, thousands of people are left temporarily out of work; the number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits jumped drastically within one week. On Thursday, the Labor Department announced that 374,000 people filed first-time unemployment claims last week. That seasonally adjusted figure was up a whopping 66,000 from the previous week, reports the LA Times.
However, the federal shutdown is only partially responsible for the rise in unemployment. Half of the jump in claims was the result of a processing error in California. According to the Labor Department, the state is working through a backlog due to technical issues in California and some other states that manipulated the jobless claims counts to appear lower than they really were, reports CNN Money.
Still, Department of Labor spokeswoman Tom Stengle said about 15,000 of the new claims last week stemmed from layoffs by government contractors affected by the partial shutdown. On Thursday, San Francisco-based URS Corp., an engineering services firm, said that it had furloughed about 3,000 workers as of Monday because of the government shutdown.
As for federal employees who are on furlough, they are eligible for jobless benefits. But Labor Department officials are tracking those applications separately, and there is a two-week delay in the reporting of that data. That means a tally of the claims filed in the first week of furlough won't come out until next Thursday.