Initial jobless claims rise again

The Associated Press manages to avoid the word “unexpected,” but in their report today from the Department of Labor release, they manage to work in an “expected” — as in …

The Labor Department says initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000, the highest level in a month. Economists had expected claims would fall to a seasonally adjusted 450,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

That is the highest level in the last four weeks.  However, the AP missed something else when writing this:

The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped last week after three straight declines, another sign that hiring remains weak.

Actually, that “third straight decline” doesn’t exist.  The AP apparently didn’t read the release carefully enough, emphasis mine:

In the week ending June 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 472,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 460,000. The 4-week moving average was 463,500, a decrease of 500 from the previous week’s revised average of 464,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.6 percent for the week ending June 5, 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 June 5 was 4,571,000, an increase of 88,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 4,483,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,601,500, a decrease of 21,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 4,622,750.

That actually made last week’s number slightly higher than the one preceding it (459,000) and eliminated the third decline that the press hailed last week as some sort of accomplishment.  This graph of Q2 initial jobless claims shows that the declines were oversold anyway:

The green line represents the seasonally-adjusted initial claims number.  As can be seen in the chart, that number has trended upward slightly in Q2.

Furthermore, the AP report states that “First-time claims have hovered near 450,000 since the beginning of the year,” but the truth is that more claims numbers have come in above 450K this year than below it.  “Near” is a relative term, but the context of this report suggests that its meaning is intended as “nearly,” implying that the sudden jump is an anomaly.  In fact, even in the “three straight declines” that wound up being two, all three numbers were above 450K.  In the eleven weeks of this quarter, we have had only two weeks below 450K: weeks ending 5/1 (448K) and 5/8 (446K).  For the year, we have had only three other weeks, making it 5 in 24 weeks.

Unemployment isn’t coming down, and now with the home market starting to tank again, we can probably expect more losses in construction in the summer, when prime building season should be employing people seasonally.  We’re nowhere near the 325K floor where net job creation exists, and now we’re going in the wrong direction again.

Update: Reuters gives us the “unexpected” treatment (via No Runny Eggs):

The number of workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose last week as the manufacturing, construction and education sectors shed employees, adding to worries that the economic recovery is slowing. …

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected claims to fall to 450,000 from the previously reported 456,000, which was revised to up to 460,000 in Thursday’s report.

Update II: American Solutions has a job-creation initiative suggestion for the White House that fits with their existing programs.  Instead of “green jobs” in the environmental sense, these would be “green jobs” in the political sense.  Run for office against a Democrat in a primary and get a job offer from Rahm Emanuel!

Submit your application before this jobs program runs out!