The U.S. Labor Department has long had criticism of its calculations, reporting and even its computer systems. That has been true under all administrations in our lifetimes, and may be true under all administrations going forward. Now the weekly jobless claims report is another mystery, despite being among the lowest readings in six years. It turns out that the two states that did not report claims last week are still out of the tabulation business in jobless claims.
That error last week created a very artificially low reading of 292,000, and that figure was revised higher by only 2,000 on Thursday. It matters because it may have artificially made it the smallest claims figure since before the recession.
This week’s reading also was missing two states and was reported as 309,000. Dow Jones had estimates of 330,000, and Bloomberg had estimates of 341,000, but the truth is that estimates just do not matter if you have one large state and one small state not counting their claims.
If the Labor Department cannot get its numbers straight, then the reality is that the markets simply will ignore these numbers until they are tabulated properly. Let’s just hope that they get their numbers straight before the September unemployment and payrolls report, which will be released on Friday, October 4.