WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week remained elevated, indicating the partial federal shutdown this month may have weakened the world’s largest economy.
Jobless claims decreased by just 10,000, to 340,000 in the week ended Oct. 26, as a backlog in California’s reporting cleared, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The reading compares with an average of 330,000 a week in August, before a change in computer systems in the country’s most populous state started affecting the data.
‘‘Looking through all the ups and downs, the job market has lost momentum,’’ said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc.
An increase in firings and lower consumer confidence after the fiscal gridlock that forced some federal agencies to close threatens to slow household spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the US economy.