Clearly the task of predicting, tracking and reporting employment numbers is complicated because nobody seems to be able to do it very well. After looking forward to a continued “recovery” this Spring, the April numbers were revised yet again this week. And yes… because I know you were going to ask, it was once again “unexpected.”

The number of claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, pushed up by auto-plant shutdowns and other unusual events that seasonal variations failed to take into account, the Labor Department said.

Applications for jobless benefits jumped by 43,000 to 474,000 in the week ended April 30, the most since August, Labor Department figures showed today. A spring break holiday in New York, a new emergency benefits program in Oregon and auto shutdowns caused by the disaster in Japan were the main reasons for the surge, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data was released to the press.

Even before last week, claims had drifted up, raising concern the improvement in the labor market has stalled. Employers added 185,000 workers to payrolls in April, fewer than in the prior month, and the unemployment rate held at 8.8 percent, economists project a Labor Department report to show tomorrow.

To be fair, there were some legitimate acts of God involved here, so some sort of dip was to be expected. But that’s not enough to account for all of it. 185,000 is still far short of the roughly one quarter million new jobs we need to be adding monthly to set us on any sort of sustainable path to previous employment levels.

I wonder where we might be able to generate some more jobs, or if there’s even anything the government could do about it? Hrmmm… I wonder if we might find a few new jobs for the people near the Gulf who work in the energy industry?