WASHINGTON -- First-time jobless claims dropped last week as fewer federal workers applied for benefits, but the figures remained inflated by the 16-day partial government shutdown.

The total number of people filing for initial unemployment benefits fell to 350,000 in the week ending Saturday, down from the previous week's revised figure of 362,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Economists had projected a steeper drop, to 335,000.

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There were 44,132 civilian federal workers who filed first-time jobless claims last week, down from 70,071 the previous week. The government shutdown was over by late last week.

Claims had surged in the first week of October to 373,000 as about 800,000 federal workers were furloughed because Congress and the White House could not agree on a spending bill after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The Pentagon later recalled about 400,000 civilian workers. The rest of the federal workforce returned Oct. 17 after Congress passed legislation providing funding until Jan. 15.

Jobless claims were skewed in September by computer problems in California and Nevada.

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