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Another unexpected jobless claims report

Posted by Richard on September 23, 2010

Reuters is reporting that "New claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week." AP says "claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week" — although they've now rewritten the story to put the emphasis on a "modest rise in home sales." [Yeah, monthly home sales went from the worst in over a decade (July) to the second-worst in over a decade (August). Whoop-de-doo!]

Has any mainstream media source had a bad-news story about the economy in the past year or so that didn't include the modifier "unexpected" or "unexpectedly"? I don't know to what extent that's a conscious effort to manipulate public opinion; the liberal intelligentsia seems honestly puzzled that the administration's "brilliant" Keynesian fiscal and monetary policies aren't working. Their faith in big government solutions is as unshakable as a snake handler's faith that the Lord will protect him (and as rational).  

I've frequently thought to myself, "If I had a dollar for every story about "unexpected" unemployment news, I could retire to the south of France." I decided to take a minute with Google to test the theory: "unemployment+unexpected" (sans quotes) returned almost 2.5 million hits, and "jobless+unexpected" (sans quotes) returned almost 4 million. 

OTOH, if I restrict those searches to news from 2008-2010, they return only about 8,000 results. But a number of those listings reference multiple sources, and some conclude with links like "all 787 news articles»" — so maybe I'd have trouble swinging a villa on the Riviera, but I'll bet I could take a nice long vacation there. 🙂

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2 Responses to “Another unexpected jobless claims report”

  1. David Bryant said

    ”I don’t know to what extent that’s a conscious effort to manipulate public opinion; …”

    I’d chalk it up to innumeracy more than anything else. The actual poll of economists on which the so-called “expected value” is based predicted that new jobless claims would remain unchanged from the previous report. The figure reported by the BLS was up roughly 3% from the (revised) prior week’s number. This particular time series is notoriously volatile and often subject to significant revisions after the fact, so a 3% deviation away from the predictions is not “unexpected” — it’s just about par for the course!

  2. RedPencil said

    The comparison to snake handlers is unfair. Most snake handlers do not actually get fatally bitten so their faith is more rational.

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