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Sandy not to blame for dismal jobs report

The AP reported today that this week’s terrible unemployment numbers were due to fallout from Sandy – the storm that hit the Northeast last week. On its face, the excuse holds merit. When digging into the data, it looks like AP over-interpreted a footnote thereby giving the Administration a pass on an awful report.

The Labor Department said applications increased by 78,000 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.

First to note in the report is that New York, the most populous state hit by the storm, saw its weekly figures drop by more than 2,200 claims. The reason for fewer claims given was that due to power outages caused by the Hurricane, the State’s systems were unable to take claims from claimants. So while the storm may have caused in increase in unemployment in New York, it was not figured into the 78,000 increase due.

Next we find that the state with the largest increase in claims, Pennsylvania, did not list the storm as the reason. Only Connecticut and New Jersey pointed at Sandy for the reason they saw increased claims and of the total 78,000 increase, those two states were less than a tenth of the claims when added together.

What may have been mere oversight looks even more like white washing when you see one of the largest increases in joblessness being the swing state of Ohio. Suddenly, just after the election, Ohio reports more than 6,400 job losses in the .. wait for it.. automobile manufacturing industries . Oddly, the November 1 report just before the election showed a decrease in manufacturing layoffs in Ohio – a trend outlier when looked at broadly:

- October 25th report: Ohio sees increase of 1,936 claims due to layoff in the transportation and manufacturing industries

- November 1st report: Ohio reduces claims by 1,214 due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing

- November 8th: Ohio not mentioned

- November 15th: Ohio loses more than 6,400 jobs specifically in the auto manufacturing industry

Disregarding the strange blame, the report offers other unpleasant news: Year-over-year initial claims (seasonally adjusted) have risen by a staggering 47,000 claims. Last year at this time, only 392,000 initial claims for jobless benefits were filed, while this month more than 439,000 were given unemployment assistance.

WEEK ENDING Advance Nov. 10 Nov. 3 Change Oct. 27 Prior Year1

Initial Claims (SA) 439,000 361,000 +78,000 363,000 392,000
Initial Claims (NSA) 466,348 361,800 +104,548 339,917 363,016

 

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