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Jobless Claims Surge, Attributed To Shutdown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (10/11/13)--Jobless claims rose to a new high in the first week of October, as the aftershock of federal furloughs rippled through the economy, and California worked through a bottleneck processing unemployment benefits claims.

The Labor Department measure showed an uptick in 66,000 claims, bringing the total at the end of the week ending Oct. 5 to 374,000. It was the highest the figure has been since the recovery from Superstorm Sandy began last November.

About half of the rise can be attributed to California having completed a change in the computer system it uses to process claims. Layoffs of non-federal employees in the wake of the government shutdown accounts for another 15,000 (Bloomberg.com Oct. 10).

A less volatile measure used by Labor Department, the four-week moving average, also rose 20,000 to a five-week high of 325,000 (Moody's Economy.com Oct. 10)

Claims lodged by furloughed federal workers will be measured by a metric other than the Labor Department's jobless claims total. But claims made by furloughed contractors are counted.

Consumers Optimistic About Personal Finances But Not Economy

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NEW YORK, N.Y. (10/11/13)--A consumer confidence index indicates that Americans are more optimistic about their own finances than the economy as a whole.

The Bloomberg Consumer Confidence Index--a weekly survey of 1,000 people over the age of 18--dropped in the week that ended on Oct. 6 to -29.7, falling from the previous week's measure of -29.4.
 
But it indicated that Americans are increasingly confident in their own balance sheets. Confidence in personal finances rose to 4.7 this week--up 0.2 points from the previous week, and 6.7 points from the week that ended on Sept. 8.

When broken down, the four-week rolling average also showed that views on the buying climate improved last week, creeping upward to -33.5 from -35.

Bringing the overall index down was consumers' confidence in the economy--down to -60.2 from -57.8 (Moody's Economy.com Oct. 10).

The survey also found that those with annual incomes greater than $100,000 are most confident about the economy. The index among that cohort increased to 19, up from the previous week's measure of 16.1. Meanwhile, the index measuring confidence among those making less than $50,000 annually dropped to -51.2 (Bloomberg.com Oct.10).