Unemployment heads in the wrong direction

For the second straight week, jobless claims jump up. Can we blame Cesar Chavez and the Easter Bunny?

Topics: Unemployment, Easter, U.S. Economy, How the World Works,

Unemployment heads in the wrong directionNEW YORK - APRIL 12: Hundreds of people looking for employment wait in line to at an AARP job fair with an emphasis on individuals 50 years old and over on April 12, 2010 in New York, New York. The job fair featured employer booths and seminars on resume writing and the development of computer skills. Despite the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassing 11,000 today for the first time since September 2008, the nation’s economy is still struggling as unemployment is hovering near 10 percent. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)(Credit: Spencer Platt)

On Wednesday, the growing pack of economic recovery boosters seized upon a strong burst in March retail sales as evidence that the American consumer is capable of resuming his normal spend-happy ways, even though it’s a challenge to see where the wherewithal to fund this consumption rebirth is coming from. But what will they make of today’s jobless claim news? Forthe second straight week, jobless claims jumped up, this time by an unsettling large leap of 24,000, to 484,000 overall. The numbers for April, so far, seem quite inconsistent with the level of payroll growth recorded for March.

Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal reported an unnamed Labor Department blaming the unexpected jump on technical factors.

Wall Street Journal:

A Labor Department economist said Thursday that this latest rise can also be pegged to lag effects from the spring holidays including Easter and Cesar Chavez Day, which is celebrated in worker-heavy California.

“Volatility is always higher in the weeks surrounding the Easter holiday,” the economist said. “I think that the increase you’re seeing is much more attributable to administrative factors than economic factors.”

The long arm of Cesar Chavez reaches beyond the grave, and screws with the unemployment statistics! You see, you really can blame labor organizers for everything!

Tune in next week to see whether the excruciatingly slow overall downward trend in claims resumes. But for now, some caution about the prospects that labor markets are on the mend seems warranted.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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