Jobless claims “unexpectedly” rise again

posted at 9:30 am on January 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Let’s see if you can guess which adverb gets used in this Reuters report on initial jobless claims?  DepressinglyObviouslyPredictably?  Certainly not the latter, because in the era of Obamanomics, the media always consider bad economic news …

The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose last week as claims delayed from the year-end holidays were pushed through, government data showed on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 482,000 in the week ended Jan. 16, the Labor Department said, rising for a third straight week.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dipping to 440,000 from a previously reported 444,000.

An increase of 36,000 is a significant jump, especially after seasonal adjustments.  The retail season must have been worse than first thought.

The headline almost suggests that Reuters or CNBC has begun to smell the coffee after Obama’s first year in office: “Jobless Claims Post Jump, Dimming Hopes for Recovery.”  Normally, media reports on jobless claim increases get reported as evidence that the recovery is experiencing bumps, or distraction from the recovery, or some such.  This headline underscores the point that we haven’t actually seen a recovery yet, and if we’re still in the high 400K range of initial jobless claims more than two years after the recession, it’s probably because one hasn’t actually started yet.

How many times will the media use “unexpectedly” to describe increases in unemployment claims, housing problems, and so on?  At least pick a new adverb, for crying out loud.  Merriam-Webster’s free thesaurus suggests “surprisingly” (too cheery?), “improbably” (but they’re all too probable), “startlingly” (hardly, given the economic policies of this administration), “unlikely” (ha!), and “unintendedly,” which actually works.

I’d suggest “predictably,” myself, because the bad news comes like clockwork and has all year long.

Update: Glenn Reynolds scoffs at the notion that administrative backlog is to blame:

But how can it be “unexpected” if it’s just due to an administrative backlog?

The jump was due to an “administrative” accumulation from late December and early January holidays, and did not reflect “economic” reasons, a Labor Department spokesman said.

Wouldn’t you know about these things piling up? I mean, the holidays come around every year, and you ought to know that if you’re doing your job and tracking data and stuff. . . .

So they had no trouble keeping up with 700,000 new claims per week in the beginning of 2009 but got flummoxed by an additional 36,000 in December?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

highhopes on January 21, 2010 at 12:17 PM

The scary part is having the Dems do more to fix the economy. Just look at the market after Obama’s more bank regulation announcement. These Dems are scary when they are in control.

WashJeff on January 21, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Many HR people turned into little tyrants…Because they could.

Nozzle on January 21, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Yep. The thing that got me was that virtually all jobs I applied for were done on-line. Just getting an automated response back acknowledging that the company had gotten the application and would be in touch if there was a fit isn’t too much to expect.

BTW, I long ago came to the conclusion that HR people are by and large useless overhead in an organization. I’m sure some HR people would disagree with that comment but, frankly, my experiences with this part of any organization has not been positive or productive.

highhopes on January 21, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Government data is one of those oxymorons bcs any ‘data’ coming from the govt. is most likely to be:
biased
incorrectly analyzed
incorrectly collected
inncorrectly calculated
I just don’t believe anything that comes from the govt anymore-ever.

Badger40 on January 21, 2010 at 12:33 PM

And ObamaCare “unexpectedly” dies!

Chuck Schick on January 21, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Bunny= Cautionary tale about opting for a degree in fine arts in a jobless economy at any time.

highhopes on January 21, 2010 at 9:52 AM
FIFY

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 9:56 AM

I am constantly trying to educate my high school students on this.
BA degrees are mostly worthless.
It’s math & science & technical careers-that is where the jobs are.
People need to seriously research what kind of education they need.
It is no longer about getting what you want & working where you want-it is all about surviving long term.
I guess as a science teacher I am better off than most.

Badger40 on January 21, 2010 at 12:36 PM

I’m sure some HR people would disagree with that comment but, frankly, my experiences with this part of any organization has not been positive or productive.

highhopes on January 21, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Companies would have less need for HR if the tax laws were not so perverted to place the burden of providing for retirement savings and health care on companies. These two items can be handled by the individual.

WashJeff on January 21, 2010 at 12:36 PM

“At least pick a new adverb, for crying out loud.”

How about inevitably?

mrt721 on January 21, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Badger40 on January 21, 2010 at 12:36 PM

It is not the type of degree that matters, it is the ability to think critically and communicate clearly.

BA degrees are not worthless; I make a living because of my ability to do the above — both of which are increasingly rare skills.

publiuspen on January 21, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Obama “unexpectedly” voted out of office in 2012…

Scrappy on January 21, 2010 at 12:55 PM

It is not the type of degree that matters, it is the ability to think critically and communicate clearly.

BA degrees are not worthless; I make a living because of my ability to do the above — both of which are increasingly rare skills.

publiuspen on January 21, 2010 at 12:45 PM

You’re saying that most college degrees are worthless and could be accomplished with a functional primary education to sufficiently prepare the student and an employer aptitude test to verify qualifications, and both of those are cheaper than a college education.

DFCtomm on January 21, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Unprecedentedly?

Disturb the Universe on January 21, 2010 at 12:59 PM

BTW, I long ago came to the conclusion that HR people are by and large useless overhead in an organization. I’m sure some HR people would disagree with that comment but, frankly, my experiences with this part of any organization has not been positive or productive.

highhopes on January 21, 2010 at 12:33 PM

I have always been able to avoid the HR department as the entry point.

I’ve had great success with networking associates. I never make the HR dept my first stop.

Always try to get the name/phone number of somebody who works there. If you can convince the manager that you’d make a good addition, let him go to HR and say “Here, send this guy an offer letter”.

Otherwise, you’re just another resume. This method requires a bit of intel work; who are their customers, what are the tasks, do your skills match the tasks. Lots of name dropping and acronyms (shows you know the “language” and can hit the ground running), and who the boss is.

NEVER send an acronym to the HR department. HR defines all acronyms to mean “THROW THIS RESUME IN THE TRASH”.

BobMbx on January 21, 2010 at 1:03 PM

We don’t need a new adverb. Just delete this adverb. These fluctuations have been expected by most people for nearly a year.

burt on January 21, 2010 at 1:07 PM

I am sure there are many conservatives pundits, elected or not that PREDICTED the outcome of these policies. Maybe we can find them and inandate the AP with these stories…’PREDICTIONS’

lwssdd on January 21, 2010 at 1:16 PM

As a retired person I have been keeping track of un-employment and worrying in a detached sort of way. Now, I have to change my mind set. Becoming very worried about the whole issue and an seeing more and more folks discouraged and families in trouble over this issue.(yes, I know I’m late to the party, but am glad that I finally got there)Maybe all this money conjured up by our governments should be directly and selectively applied to companies who promise to add this or that number of jobs. I’m not an economist, in fact, I’ve always had trouble with the vagaries of that science. But, surely there are some tried and true solutions that we should be using and are not? It’s morphing/morphed into ‘out of control’.

jeanie on January 21, 2010 at 1:21 PM

I guess as a science teacher I am better off than most.

Badger40 on January 21, 2010 at 12:36 PM

No, you are wiser than most.

ya2daup on January 21, 2010 at 1:46 PM

There is no logical, factual connection in the media’s reporting of economics. There are only two axioms by which they work:

1. Spin the news bad if the guy in the White House has an (R) after his name; and

2. Spin it good if the guy has a (D) after his name.

The media was cheerleading for a recession in 2006 and 2007, so much so that Glenn Reynolds took up a “Dude, Where’s My Recession?” theme on his Instapundit blog whenever he linked to their economic coverage.

Now, they just want to wish the recession/depression away in the same way they wanted to wish it to be so when Bush was in office. Ah, but if only wishing makes it so.

I read about all the “unexpected” bad economic news, and every time I have to spend the next few hours forcing the music out of my head:

♫Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let’s sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again!

Altogether shout it now
There’s no one
Who can doubt it now
So let’s tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again!♫

Spurius Ligustinus on January 21, 2010 at 1:57 PM

***
A couple of Trillion here, a couple of Trillion there–pretty soon we’re starting to talk real money!
***
How long will it take to pay this back (not!) at 2 percent interest rate?
***
John Bibb
***

rocketman on January 21, 2010 at 1:59 PM

I’d like to add that Obie has all Federal Agencies looking for places they can cut back spending. Imagine that.. a bunch of bureaucrats looking for ways to cut waste!!??!! You have to laugh to keep from crying.

Dire Straits on January 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM

What’s the over/under on an employee at HUD or the Education Department stepping forward to say, “How about we abolish this department altogether?”

My ex-wife was in a position years ago — during the Reagan years — where she examined the position, dumped tasks that were value-added and farmed out what remained to folks on the shop floor who were better situated to deal with the issues. Worked herself out of a job, in other words, and then was promoted for taking the initiative to have done so.

ya2daup on January 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Glenn Reynolds took up a “Dude, Where’s My Recession?” theme on his Instapundit blog whenever he linked to their economic coverage.

Spurius Ligustinus on January 21, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Maybe Glenn can start a “Dude, Where are the Jobs?” theme in keeping with how things are today. Or Ed and Allah can do so here at HA.

ya2daup on January 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM

dumped tasks that were not value-added

ya2daup on January 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM

FIFM

ya2daup on January 21, 2010 at 2:04 PM

DFCtomm on January 21, 2010 at 12:56 PM

No, I am not saying college degrees are worthless. I was countering an earlier post which deemed folks with BAs, as opposed to math and science degress, unemployable.

I do agree our primary education is woefully lacking. The Founding Fathers, many of whom were self-taught in the classics, would be aghast at the pablum and false history we are spoonfed.

I will agree that college is not necessary for all. But that does not devalue the experience for many. For those interested in continuing to learn (notice word choice “to learn” rather than “to be taught”) and to think, college can be a valuable proving ground.

However, a college degree is not a guarantee of success, nor is it the end of learning. It is still up to the individual.

publiuspen on January 21, 2010 at 2:05 PM

publiuspen on January 21, 2010 at 2:05 PM

A lot of Engineers are out of work. Everyone I know in fact, including folks that have NEVER been out before. There is no work for us Americans.

Have you seen any effort to cancel the existing guest worker programs, like the infamous H1-B? Considering the dire situation all H1-B employee visas must be canceled. US Companies must be like actually compelled to comply with the law instead of skirting it.

dogsoldier on January 21, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Sorry for the double post, but I would like to ask ED, AP and all you HA denizens this question:

When do we start calling what we are in a depression? It sure as hell isn’t a recovery. IMHO anyone using that term needs an intervention.

dogsoldier on January 21, 2010 at 2:19 PM

publiuspen on January 21, 2010 at 2:05 PM

You said:

It is not the type of degree that matters, it is the ability to think critically and communicate clearly.

You said what mattered was critical thinking and communication, and neither of those are required for a degree, or guaranteed by one. I just followed your logic to it’s end. It would be much less expensive for young adults if they weren’t required to pursue a college degree to prove that they might have the ability to do both, but why can’t an employer simply test them?

An employer can’t test them for fear of discriminatory lawsuits, and so they are forced to use a college degree as proof of the ability to think critically and communicate. It’s an expensive go around for kids, and a gold mine for colleges, which might explain why a college education continues to rise at a rate higher than inflation.

DFCtomm on January 21, 2010 at 2:25 PM

How ’bout “according to plan” ?

Alden Pyle on January 21, 2010 at 2:27 PM

NEA funded art grants pulled as a result of Memo-gate
.
Bunnies hardest hit.

ted c on January 21, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Obama “unexpectedly” a lame duck at 8 pm ECT January 19, 2010

DSchoen on January 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM

The America higher education system, like Obama, is one of the worst frauds ever perpetuated on a gullible public. Most jobs, and I mean most jobs, do not require a college degree, but employers require them as an easy way to cut down the number of applications, to avoid giving tests and getting into to trouble with the Feds, and to let others do the training which companies could give. Not even lawyers need a law degree, but due to the closed-shop mentality of law associations, a degree is required.

Dhuka on January 21, 2010 at 4:01 PM

OK, I can’t resist:
Theykeep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

“Inconcievable.”

cableguy615 on January 21, 2010 at 4:45 PM

They need to quit fudging the numbers. The UNADJUSTED NUMBER THIS WEEK is 650,000. Last week it was 880,000 and they “adjusted” it to 444,000. What kind of horse crap is that?

dogsoldier on January 21, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Every year, there is an upsurge in new applications as people hired for the holidays are let go. Adjustments are made to the figures so that it is easier to see the underlying pattern, rather than the repeating noise.
Also, since they subtract out the “average” seasonal changes, this makes it easier to see if the change for this year is more or less than average.

Nothing nefarious about the adjustments.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Do their adjustments mean that out of 154,194 people filing their initial claim only 36,000 of them are really unemployed?

They need to stop the adjusting.

dogsoldier on January 21, 2010 at 10:58 AM

No it means that there is normally an increase of around 118,000 at this time of year. This years increase was 36,000 greater than average.

They do not need to stop adjusting, it’s just that some people need to understand how these numbers work and stop assuming that everything they don’t understand is part of some evil plot.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Can Scott Brown’s vote stop the increase in the debt limit?

If he votes for it, what takebacks should he ask for?

PattyJ on January 21, 2010 at 11:03 AM

I seriously doubt it, but it does mean that the Republicans might be able to get more in the of concessions for not trying to block it.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 4:53 PM

The applicant didn’t know if their stuff had gotten there, when the job had been filled, or anything else. It was if you were sending things off to some black hole. People may be desperate for work in the Obama economy but that is no excuse for the fact that so many potential employers are so uncivil in dealing with job applicants.

highhopes on January 21, 2010 at 12:07 PM

That’s been the case for years.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 4:56 PM

The arrogance that crept into the HR departments was astounding. That’s when you get questions like “what was the last book you read?” Or, why are you wearing a red tie with brown shoes…I would ask what does that have to do with flying a jet? Many HR people turned into little tyrants…Because they could.

Nozzle on January 21, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Many interviewing books advise you to ask questions like that. They know that you know all of the standard questions and have memorized the answers to them. They want to see how well you think on your feet, and how you deal with unexpected situations. It’s not that they are turning into tyrants, its the fact that they have many qualified candidates and they are trying to find some way of diferentiating the best from the mearly very good.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 4:59 PM

These aren’t bad moves if they follow through, but could it stop the conservative wave that is building for the midterms?

DFCtomm on January 21, 2010 at 12:25 PM

I suspect that for every moderate that Obama woes with such moves, he will lose two liberals who are appalled by them.

They are already ready to quit on him over his failure to nationalize the health care industry. If Obama tries to play the moderate in the run up to 2012, I suspect that if Nader ran again, he might manage to out poll Obama.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 5:03 PM

It might be because I’m in a technical field, but I’m rarely interviewed by HR types, except to verify information on my resume. The real interviews are done by the potential boss and co-workers. They usually throw various problems at you and ask you to solve them.

I remember one time I may have talked myself out of a job.
They presented me a scenario involving a doubly linked list in a database. They asked me to solve a particular problem. I told them I couldn’t, and the reason was there was a fundamental flaw in their basic design. The two engineers and I spent about half an hour re-engineering the system. I was sure that I had impressed everyone enough to get the job. I never heard back from them.

I figure that I had caused them to go back and rethink the basic assumptions of the project and decide they didn’t want to pursue the project they were going to hire me for, or that they were looking for someone to help them find a problem in their system, and since I found that flaw during the interview, they didn’t need to hire anyone after all.

There was another time I was sent a small test on the “C” language.

It was filled with sample code fragments and questions about what would this code do. In several places my answer was “nothing, because this code won’t compile. Now if you make these changes, it will compile and here’s the result.”
In other places I told them that the code fragment wouldn’t produce a result, because it would cause a fatal exception before it ran to completion, then I fixed the code and told them what the result would have been had the code been written properly.

I did get that job. Should have known better than to take it. I left after only 9 montsh, because my manager was a complete idiot. The division was shut down shortly after I left. To this day I believe I could have saved them, but the boss wasn’t interested in hearing any opinion but his own, and a small cotorie of friends.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 5:12 PM

After that experience, there have been instances where the interview went so badly that on the way out I was the one who told the HR guy that I was no longer interested.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 5:13 PM

I was countering an earlier post which deemed folks with BAs, as opposed to math and science degress, unemployable.

publiuspen on January 21, 2010 at 2:05 PM

I don’t believe he said such people were unemployable, I believe he said such degrees were, for the most part, a waste of time. Made necessary only because our current legal system will not allow employers to use common tests of competence.

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 5:15 PM

MarkTheGreat on January 21, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Neither am I, but I connected the fact that all the seasonal employees they are adjusting for got laid off in October and November according to the BLS press releases. Retail, for example (and construction) dumped a lot more than “expected” during those months.

I’m just saying I suspect the “adjustments” are ahhhh more political than factual.

Read your posts above about things that happened to you in tech interviews. Sounds like we may be applying for the same kind of work. Mrs. Dog tells me I should blog about the things I’ve run into. Like for instance went I went to an interview and the senior interviewer introduced himself as “Darth Vader” and his companion as “Yoda”.

I bleep you not.

dogsoldier on January 21, 2010 at 6:07 PM

BA degrees are mostly worthless.

I am constantly trying to educate my high school students on this.
BA degrees are mostly worthless.
It’s math & science & technical careers-that is where the jobs are.

Badger40 on January 21, 2010 at 12:36 PM

I have one of those worthless degrees. You know what I do with it? Manage a large group of people with tech degrees and make twice as much.

angryed on January 21, 2010 at 7:12 PM

I have one of those worthless degrees. You know what I do with it? Manage a large group of people with tech degrees and make twice as much.

angryed on January 21, 2010 at 7:12 PM

Thank Greenspan for that:

Greatly expanding quotas for highly skilled workers would lower wage premiums of skilled over lesser skilled,” Mr. Greenspan said. Current skill shortages in the U.S. create a “privileged elite” with noncompetitive high incomes. Those skill shortages exist because “we are shielding our skilled labor force from world competition,” he said.

DFCtomm on January 21, 2010 at 7:25 PM

This is why these elections this year really don’t matter.

Now, if some kind of deus ex machina comes down and saves the world economy, then that would be a different story.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 21, 2010 at 7:37 PM

It is obvious that they were “holding back” some numbers, possibly hoping to spread them out over more time when they expected the job market to improve. But it didn’t improve and so they finally had to report them.

I don’t trust this administration.

crosspatch on January 21, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Saved or created MORE unemployment.

dthorny on January 21, 2010 at 11:07 PM

BTW, I long ago came to the conclusion that HR people are by and large useless overhead in an organization. I’m sure some HR people would disagree with that comment but, frankly, my experiences with this part of any organization has not been positive or productive.

highhopes on January 21, 2010 at 12:33 PM

I was once told that Human Resouces… is neither;)

Laura in Maryland on January 22, 2010 at 11:20 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3