Friday, January 22, 2010

A surprising jump in first-time unemployment claims?

A surprising jump in first-time claims for unemployment aid sent a painful reminder Thursday that jobs remain scarce six months into the economic recovery.

The surge in last week's claims deflated hopes among some analysts that the economy would produce a net gain in jobs in January and help fuel the recovery.

Why the surprise? Every year, temporary seasonal employment increases in December for the Christmas retail and travel season, and then those jobs are gone by January.

The only surprise is that the media bought the Obama administration's spin when they claimed credit for the annual December bump.

The administration's excuse?

A Labor Department analyst said much of the increase was due to holiday-season-related administrative backlogs at the state agencies that process the claims.

Translation: They phonied up the numbers, either through bureaucratic incompetence ("administrative backups") or by knowingly withholding bad news.

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