Initial jobless claims jump by 24,000

No one can claim that major storms are now contributing to spikes in unemployment, as the administration did in February.  Just two weeks after claiming a major victory from jobless figures assisted mainly by government hiring, initial jobless claims spiked upward sharply again.  Is this an opportunity for wire services to use their favorite adverb? (h/t Desmond Lee)

In the week ending April 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 484,000, an increase of 24,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 460,000. The 4-week moving average was 457,750, an increase of 7,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 450,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.6 percent for the week ending April 3, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week’s unrevised rate of 3.5 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 3 was 4,639,000, an increase of 73,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 4,566,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,638,500, a decrease of 13,750 from the preceding week’s revised average of 4,652,250.

The news looked worse for the unadjusted figures:

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 514,742 in the week ending April 10, an increase of 99,730 from the previous week. There were 610,522 initial claims in the comparable week in 2009.

This comes as the federal government continues its Census Bureau hiring binge, which means that the private sector shedding of jobs is accelerating even more. We’re getting back to the rate of loss from 2009, and getting farther from net job creation even without considering the additional 100,000 new people that join the work force on average each month.

So which wire services will use a form of the word “unexpected” this time?  The AP waits until its third paragraph:

It marked the second week that claims took an unexpected leap. In the prior week, claims rose by 18,000 to 460,000.

They also report that the administration didn’t blame it on the weather this time … but on Jesus Christ:

A government analyst, however, cautioned against reading too much into both weeks’ figures, saying they were clouded by seasonal adjustment difficulties related to the Easter holiday, which falls on different weeks each year.

And the AP gets in its spin:

Even with the increases over the last two weeks, the trend in claims have been slowly drifting downward. Fewer people overall have been seeking unemployment insurance as the job market recovers.

For instance, for the same week a year ago, first-time claims totaled 609,000, compared with the current 484,000. Applications for jobless claims peaked during the recession at 651,000 in late March 2009.

True, but deceptive. The number has been going mainly up over the last two months, and hasn’t been descending at all since 2009. In fact, this report is slightly worse than in January, when the level rose to 482,000 … “unexpectedly.”

Update: The Texas Rainmaker remembers when the “unexpected” was on the other foot.  I guess this means that the media just aren’t eternal optimists, then …