Screwy data means that we had an increase in unemployment even though all other indications point the other direction

In data which is difficult to interpret due to all the other special circumstances that have taken place, initial claims surged to 445K in the January 8 for the worst result since October. The week-to-week rise, at 35K, is the largest since July (prior week revised 1K higher to 410K). It is probably best to look at the four-week average which offers the best handle on the data, up 5.5K to 416.5K which is still nearly 10K lower than the month-ago comparison, a comparison that does hint at improvement for monthly payrolls.

The other factors that affect are the backlog of filers before the shortened weeks of the holidays. They also note that many claimants postponed filing until the New Year, a move that will increase their benefits.

Continuing claims fell a very steep 248K to 3.879 million in data for the January 1 week. There's no explanation offered for this change. The unemployment rate for insured workers fell two tenths to 3.1%.

One week's data is only one week's data and in this case very hazy data. Nevertheless this report, however skewed, will awaken talk of unexpected deterioration in the jobs market. Next week's report will be unusually important.

Via Zack's:
If the downward trend can be re-established, there is real hope. The economy is growing, but not at the sort of rate needed to add a significant number of jobs and put a dent in the huge army of the unemployed. The December employment report was a bit disappointing, especially after the ADP report showing an increase of 297,000 private sector jobs. Instead, the total was just 103,000 jobs, with 113,000 from the private sector.

Department of Labor release
Zacks release


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