Are you sitting down? From the perpetually blind-sided Reuters:
New jobless claims unexpectedly rise
WASHINGTON | Thu Jun 9, 2011
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, according to a report on Thursday that could reinforce fears the labor market recovery has stalled.
Initial claims for state jobless benefits increased 1,000 to 427,000, the Labor Department said. However, economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dropping to 415,000 from a previously reported count of 422,000.
Imagine them being wrong.
By the way, neither Reuters (nor the AP) bother to note it, but last week’s already bad new claims number was revised up by an additional 4,000 claims – from 422,000 to 426,000. Just as it always is.
The rise kept first-time claims perched above the 400,000 mark for the ninth week in a row. Analysts normally associate a level below that with steady job growth.
Fueling concerns about job creation, the U.S. government said on Friday the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 9.1 percent in May while nonfarm employers added a paltry 54,000 workers to their payrolls.
Isn’t two years into a supposed recovery a bit late to be “fueling concerns about job creation”?
The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid slipped to 3.68 million in the week ended May 28 from 3.75 million. Economists had expected so-called continuing claims to edge down to 3.70 million from the previously reported 3.71 million.
The ever plucky Associated Press manages to be a little more upbeat:
Unemployment aid applications stuck at high level
By Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON – The number of people seeking unemployment benefits hardly changed for a second straight week, stuck at a high level that points to a slowing job market.
Weekly unemployment benefit applications ticked up 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 427,000 last week, the Labor Department said.
It marked the ninth straight week in which applications have been above 400,000. That trend represents a setback after applications had been declining all winter…
Applications had fallen in February to 375,000, a level that signals sustainable job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for seven of nine weeks. But applications surged in April to 478,000 – an eight-month high – and they have been stuck above 400,000 since then.
The growth in unemployment benefit applications is one of many signs that the economy has faltered from earlier this year, when hiring was picking up and many economists expected growth to accelerate…
Remember when the economy was just chugging along earlier this year? We don’t either.
All told, 7.6 million people obtained unemployment benefits in the week ending May 21, the latest data available. That’s a drop of 90,000 from the previous week. Some of those no longer receiving benefits may have gotten jobs, but many likely used up all the benefits available to them.
Bear in mind that much of Mr. Obama public sector union bailout ‘stimulus spending’ is scheduled to run out at the end of this quarter, on June 30th. So the unemployment numbers have no where to go but up.
Luckily for the Obama administration, and the two article note in passing, more and more people are also losing their unemployment benefits. And they will soon be joining the ranks of the ‘discouraged workers.’ Discouraged workers are very conveniently no longer counted in the Department Of Labor’s official unemployment numbers.
But since there doesn’t appear to be any office definition for when one becomes “discouraged,” the Labor Department can probably tweak the jobless numbers anyway they want – in their efforts to save Mr. Obama’s re-election chances.