About 4 million people received benefits the week ended Sept. 14, the latest data available. That's about 80,000 more than the previous week. A year ago, more than 5 million people were on the unemployment benefit rolls.
The economy may not be growing quickly enough to encourage companies to ramp up hiring. Most analysts forecast that growth has slowed to an annual rate of 1.5 percent to 2 percent in the July-September quarter, down from a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter.
Economists predict that growth is rebounding to an annual rate of 2.5 percent to 3 percent in the current October-December quarter. But those forecasts were made before this week's impasse that shuttered the government. The shutdown could shave about 0.15 percentage points from the fourth quarter figure for each week it lasts.
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