Last Updated:November 23 @ 09:22 pm

Jobless claims surge to 439K; media blames Sandy

By Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Superstorm Sandy drove the number of people seeking unemployment benefits up to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 last week, the highest level in 18 months.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications increased by 78,000 mostly because a large number of applications were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces close and they don't get paid.

The storm has affected the claims data for the past two weeks and may distort reports for another two weeks, the department has said.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, increased to 383,750.

Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 29 and disrupted businesses from North Carolina to Maine. The storm also cut power to roughly 8 million homes and businesses. Some are still without power.

Before the storm distorted the figures, weekly applications had fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 since January. At the same time, employers have added an average of nearly 157,000 jobs a month. That's barely enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 7.9 percent in October.

There are some signs that the job market is improving. Employers added 171,000 jobs in October and hiring in August and September was stronger than first estimated. The economy has gained an average of 173,000 jobs a month since July. That's up from an average of 67,000 a month in April through June.

The unemployment rate rose slightly in October from 7.8 percent in the previous month because more Americans began looking for work. That suggest some felt their chances of finding a job had improved. Not all of them found jobs, which pushed up the unemployment rate. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching for work.

The economy appears to have grown faster over the summer than first thought, based on a handful of positive September reports on inventory growth and trade released this month. Many economists now predict growth at an annual rate of roughly 3 percent in the July-September quarter, up from the initial estimate of 2 percent reported last month.

The government releases its second estimate for third-quarter growth on Nov. 29.

Still, many economists say the economy is growing in the current October-December quarter at a weak annual rate below 2 percent.

The storm combined with cautious consumers to lower retail sales in October. Consumers may also be holding back because of anxiety over big tax increases and spending cuts - known as the "fiscal cliff" - that will take effect in January unless Congress and the White House reach a budget deal by then. Many companies are likely to scale back hiring and investment, too, until the fiscal cliff debate is resolved.

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7 Comments

  1. Bob KnowsComment by Bob Knows
    November 15, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    With Odumbo re-elected, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

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  2. DudleyComment by Dudley
    November 15, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

    Sandy my butt! I guess you are going to ignore all of the corporations laying off because of Bamma and Bamma Care.

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    • capricorn1Comment by capricorn1
      November 15, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

      ITS THAT DARN BUSH’S FAULT….AGAIN.

      the media are pathetic sychophents.

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      Rating: 4.3/5 (6 votes cast)
  3. brierebearComment by brierebear
    November 15, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

    New Jersey’s government reported a surge in unemployment applications following the storm. Some were for temporary aid, such as for casino workers who lost a week of work, others had their place of employment damaged or destroyed and may not return to work for a while. Can’t blame the media on this one.

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  4. mrwilsonComment by mrwilson
    November 15, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

    Oh no, it is all Sandy’s fault. Global warming and mother nature handed me a mess……….this is all part of my inheritance…

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  5. daveComment by daveatrockymountainperspective
    November 15, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    This post is laced with deception and figures this Administration has tried to spin for more than a year now. The worst of the spin began when BLS Commissioner John Hall was relieved at the end of his four-year appointment as BLS Commissioner back in January. With no replacement for the head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leadership and authority was taken over by Labor Department Secretary, Hilda Solis, a far-left, extreme liberal progressive with ties to LaRaza and other Hispanic groups from her days as an elected Representative from California’s East Los Angeles Districts 31 and 32.

    If you want to get an idea of what happened to the figures immediately after her taking the helm from Hall, who was a Bush appointee, multiple months figures from years earlier were adjusted from the BLS’ survey-based figures to make them separate further from real employment counts and unemployment figures kept through the DOL’s sister branch, the Employment and Training Administration. Incredibly, the BLS estimates and projections were hiked more than a half million job losses for the months of November 2008 and January 2009 combined with Solis in charge, which lent fodder for the oft-used liberal cry that Bush was losing 800,000 jobs per month when Obama took the Presidency.

    For the record, just once under Bush had numbers indicated a month’s loss of 700,000 before Solis’ took leadership of the BLS and adjusted counts upward to make it look more like three months exceeded that level. Of course the third month, January 2009 was a shared month with Obama, and in reality, after December figures were released on January 9th, Bush was President for 12 days, while Obama was President for 16 days leading up to a February 6th, 2009 release of January unemployment figures by the BLS. Those are typically considered accurate from the final day of the month they’re assigned to or the first of February, in this case, through the end of the month. Those figures were originally released showing just over a half million loss, which is still found on a range of government documents from the period, but were hiked to 819,000 under Solis, more than three years after the survey data was first presented. The November data had already weathered two minor adjustments previously under Hall to change from another BLS release showing a half million to 445,000, ahead of settling in at 461,000 jobs lost during the final months of 2011, before being hiked up to 711,000 under Solis. Can anyone think of any reason beyond strategic disinformation that changes 39 months after the survey figures were released lent newfound support to the employment debacle being largely Bush’s fault?

    Using the actual counts collected by the ETA, instead of survey-based estimates, George Bush had 19 consecutive quarters of job growth before a paltry reduction of only 16,000 jobs lost on real employers’ payroll counts at the outset of 2009. Later, under Obama, the economy would shed 8.3 million jobs, according to payroll counts, from the second half of 2009 through mid-year 2011. The numbers this Administration continues to spin have been deceptive and intended to cover the ugly reality of what’s happened over the past four years. Real figures have been buried and hidden from the public for obvious reasons.

    There’s much more I’d like to offer to correct the impression the latest releases are trying to create, but I won’t belabor the point here. Much of it’s explained at the Rocky Mountain Perspective site. Just keep in mind, the ETA’s employers’ payroll figures released to start our latest 2012 calendar quarter still show Obama down 5.8 million jobs from the number of Americans gainfully employed when Bush left Office. And the 90.2 million Americans who’d filed first time claims for unemployment after losing jobs under Obama hiked up above 90.6 million with the latest weekly figures. And those were already more than 23.1 million more than lost jobs under George Bush at the same period 196 weeks into a second term liberals were all angrily screaming for blood over.

    The remainder of the year and start of 2013 promise more of the same for Americans out of work, and the numbers at risk from Obamacare and tax changes suggest this next year will be anything but a return to work for Americans already displaced from jobs in historic numbers.

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  6. rosecoatsComment by rosecoats
    November 15, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

    These figures have nothing to do with “Sandy”; most of the new claims were filed in Pennsylvania and Ohio. New York is not included as they have not reported yet.
    The left squawked about the worst unemployment under Bush having close to 800,000 new claims in a month, now we’ve seen that many in just TWO WEEKS. Congratulations, all you “useful idiots” in Ohio and Pennsyvania who voted for Obama (and all those who sat home rather than vote for Romney); you asked for it, you got it. Enjoy your new life in the People’s Republic of America. It doesn’t get any better than this.

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