High Unemployment Claims: More Surprised Economists

The number of unemployment claims filed last week jumped by 22,000 from the prior week. USA Today told readers that analysts expected that claims would fall by 19,000. It is hard to understand why anyone who analyzes economic data for a living would have expected unemployment claims to fall from the prior week.

In that week heavy snowstorms on the East Coast had made it difficult for many workers to get to unemployment insurance offices and in some cases even forced their closing. It should have been obvious that claims would jump last week as people prevented by the weather from filing earlier would turn up last week. That is why the relatively high level of claims reported two weeks ago should have been given more attention.

--Dean Baker

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