Bad weather, worse economy

Jobless claims rise again, new home sales plummet, and durable goods orders fail to inspire

Published February 25, 2010 2:26PM (EST)

Last week, economy watchers predicted that jobless claims would sink because northeastern blizzards dissuaded newly laid-off workers from seeking benefits. But claims jumped anyway. This week, the consensus prediction was that claims would fall by 13,000, but instead they rose again by 22,000, in part, reports the Wall Street Journal, because it turns out there was a backlog in requests the week before due to the snow. So last week's numbers should have been even worse.

The Journal tries to provide some optimism by suggesting that a "bigger than expected" gain in durable goods orders is "consistent with other data showing manufacturing is recovering." But if you subtract out a jump in aircraft orders and defense-related spending, new orders actually declined by 2.9 percent.

Throw into the mix Wednesday's news that new home sales sunk to their lowest point since 1963 in January and you end up with a pretty unconvincing picture of "recovery."

By Andrew Leonard

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

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