Report: Big Drop in Jobless Claims Resulted from Reporting Quirk

Thursday, 11 Oct 2012 08:42 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The U.S. Labor Department’s report on Thursday of a 30,000 drop in first-time unemployment claims – to a four-year low of 339,000 – resulted from a quirk in the reporting of data by one large state, CNBC reports.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that the state, which it did not name, did report its weekly jobless claims figures, but it did not process and report its claims number for the fourth quarter of the year, CNBC reports.

The quarterly number is derived from when many people must reapply for benefits, as opposed to those who apply for benefits because they were newly laid off, CNBC reports.

The fourth quarter began on Oct. 1.

As a result, the expected spike in claims that normally happens at the start of a new quarter did not occur, CNBC reports.

It is unclear, however, why that happened or how much of an anomaly this is, CNBC reports. But what is clear is that the expected spike in unemployment claims around the start of each quarter was smaller this time than usual.

Coupled with the seasonal adjustment – regarding claims that were filed by those in agricultural or other seasonal jobs – this actually pushed down the headline figure.

In other words, the drop of 30,000 claims last week had more to do with the lack of expected re-filings at the start of the fourth quarter than with any particular improvement in labor market conditions, CNBC reports.

Further, that means that the decline that usually follows the spike won’t be as pronounced this time around, so the headline tally of jobless claims is likely to rebound next week.

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