How do we know that the election is over? When unemployment jumps to 439,000
Superstorm Sandy drove the number of people seeking unemployment benefits up to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 last week, the highest level in 18 months.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications increased by 78,000 mostly because a large number of applications were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces close and they don’t get paid.
The storm has affected the claims data for the past two weeks and may distort reports for another two weeks, the department has said.
Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said that a similar jump in applications occurred after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“We should see a full retracement of this increase in coming weeks,” he said. Applications were declining before the storm, he added, “though levels are consistent with moderate, rather than strong, job growth.”
The four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, increased to 383,750.
The hamsters say that most of the increase is due to the storm, but some of it is due to the suppression of real numbers prior to the election, that is that the storm is hiding the bookcooking.
They are reticent to make predictions moving forward (Forward! Over the Fiscal Cliff!!!) because, they tell me in their squeaky hamster voices, “We live in a corrupt banana republic and the numbers are meaningless. There should be some seasonal employment for the holidays and a reduction in storm damage unemployment claims, so I guess the numbers decline about 3,000 next week. But after Christmas, watch out. The trap door opens and we all fall through.