May Unemployment Polls

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After a surprising rise in the unemployment rate for April, did it begin to decline again in May? We'll know on Friday. Think you know how the numbers turned out? Vote in the polls below -- this month we're including a second one on the number of jobs added/lost.

So far, the unemployment reports for May that have come from sources other than the Bureau of Labor Statistics haven't been very helpful in identifying a trend. Initial jobless claims hovered around the 450,000 mark throughout May. They began the month at 446,000 and ended the month at 453,000. Continuing claims went from 4,665,000 to 4,666,000 in the week ending May 22nd -- again, little movement, if not a slight rise.

The news isn't a whole lot better from ADP. Today, its national employment report (.pdf) indicated 55,000 new jobs in May. That might sound good, but it's less than the 65,000 increase for April -- and far fewer than the 110,000 expected by economists.

Finally, the Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. layoffs report (.pdf) showed that job cuts were virtually flat at 38,810 in May compared to April. Although the report doesn't say anything about hiring, it does tell us that firing didn't change much during the month.

So what does it all mean? Probably that unemployment didn't move drastically. In April, the unemployment rate rose to 9.9% after sitting at 9.7% since January. But 290,000 more jobs were created, indicating that the rate rise was mostly seasonally-driven.

Last month, readers didn't do so well in the poll -- despite our warning that seasonality might affect the unemployment rate. Just 7.7% correctly predicted 9.9%, while most of the others incorrectly thought the unemployment rate would decline. Since the rate can be so unpredictable, we wanted to give readers an opportunity to guess the number of additional/fewer jobs as well. So vote in both polls below.



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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
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