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October Surprise: Unemployment Aid Surges to Four-Month High

October Surprise: Unemployment Aid Surges to Four-Month High

Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months. The increase represents a marked departure from the previous week's supposed drop.

Both swings were largely due to “technical factors,” as the Associated Press puts it.

"Technical factors"?

“So much for last week's aberration initial claims print of 339K (revised higher of course to 342K),” Zero Hedge reports. “With expectations of an increase to 365K, the DOL [Department of Labor] just came out with a whopper of a miss, the largest in three months, at 388K, an increase of 46K in one week, which was also the highest print in [four] months.”

Also, remember last week when everyone was trying to figure out which state reported their unemployment figures differently? At the time, Business Insider accused California of being responsible for the “timely” decrease (remember, the numbers did drop right before the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan). And although California officials firmly denied these charges, some still believe they are responsible for last week’s aberration.

“Last week, California reported a large drop in applications, pushing down the overall figure to the lowest since February 2008. This week, it reported a significant increase as it processed applications delayed from the previous week [emphasis added],” the AP notes.

But despite this "significant increase," Zero Hedge dismisses Business Insider's unsubstantiated Golden State claim: “[N]o, last week's print was not due to California, which the DOL reported just decreased by 4,979 in the week ended Oct 6, not the required 49K.”

Courtesy ZH

California conspiracies aside, what’s worse than the fact that we still don’t know which state is responsible for last week’s supposed decrease is the fact that no one seems to know.

A department spokesman said the seasonally adjusted numbers are being distorted by "an issue of timing" as well as "state-level administrative issues."

Anyway, here's a chart showing how long we now gone without "one single downward adjustment in the claims number" [via ZH & John Lohman]:

In other similarly dreary news, growth slowed to a tepid annual rate of 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, down from 2 percent in the previous quarter. Most economists predict growth staying at or below 2 percent in the second half of the year.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot, the number of those on Extended Benefits has once again started to rise, after dropping to “virtually [zero] following expiration of state benefits,” the Hedge notes.

In the words of one of our favorite movies: “Up is down, black is white.”

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Front page photo courtesy the AP. This story has been updated.

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