Initial jobless claims on a seasonally-adjusted basis declined by 1,000 last week from 429,000 to 428,000. While Reuters rewrote their story to avoid the use of its favorite “u” word (or specifically, its cousin “less than expected”) and thus caused me to blow up the original post, CNBC retained their dip into the dictionary to create its own dire headline with a new “u” word after switching from an Associated Press report to the Reuters report currently linked.
The use of “unexpectedly” and its cousins by the media, and mostly Reuters, has become so prevalent that Ed Morrissey has made it a more-or-less regular feature at Hot Air. CNBC’s use of “ugly”, however, is new.
Since that was originally attached to the AP’s report that looked at the longer-term trend, I’ll give the lowlights from that report:
- After a brief trip to 375,000 in February, which was in the middle of a 7-of-9 week trend of claims below 400,000, initial jobless claims spiked to 478,000 in April and in the AP’s words, “…have shown only modest improvement since that time,” as they have been above 400,000 the last 12 weeks.
- The four-week rolling average has been in the neighborhood of 426,000 initial claims per week for the last month.
- While the total number of people on the 26-week unemployment insurance “fell” to 3.7 million in the middle of June, the total number of people on unemployment, including those on extended benefits, remains at nearly 7.5 million.
There is a reason why I put “fell” in the last bullet point in scare quotes – that measure has been significantly gamed in the last week. Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog first noticed the constant upward revision of the prior week’s initial jobless claims. While this marks the first week in 15 that upward revision has not happened (indeed, it was not revised at all), there was a significant upward revision in the total number of people on 26-week unemployment insurance. Last week, the “advance” numbers of people on unemployment insurance for the week ending 6/11 was 3,697,000. This week, the final number settled at 3,714,000. That makes the claim that the 6/19 advance number of 3,702,000 represents a decrease rather suspect.
A copy of this is at The Right Scoop