Jobless claims "unexpectedly" rise again

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?

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