NEW YORK (CNN) - The jobless lines across the country got extra long this past week. As the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged to a level we haven't seen in a year.
These are the first hard numbers showing the kind of effect the government shutdown is having on Americans. The Labor Department reported a huge increase in initial jobless claims last week. They jumped by 66-thousand, all the way up to 374-thousand.
That's the biggest increase we've seen since Superstorm Sandy, last October. About a quarter of those filing were people directly impacted by the shutdown. Most of them are private sector workers who are contracted out by the government. Places like Lockheed Martin and United Technologies, for example, both have employees who were furloughed.
It won't be until next week that we see the impact of the public sector workers who were temporarily laid off - since they're counted differently. So there's likely to be a big jump then too. It's not completely shutdown-related. The other reason for the increase in claims: computer problems in California. The state recently changed to a new application program.
The upgrade has had some processing problems, leaving some Californians without their checks.