Can you believe it's already the first week of December? And that means tomorrow the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the November national unemployment data. As we've done for the past several months, we would like to provide Atlantic Business readers the opportunity to predict what the past month's national unemployment rate was. Vote after the jump.
You might recall that October's rate shocked all but the most pessimistic among us. It leapt 0.4% from 9.8% in September to 10.2%. A mere 9% of respondents correctly predicted that it would be 10.1% or higher -- so still fewer probably thought it would reach 10.2%. But anyone who got it wrong shouldn't feel so bad: even the market consensus was way off.
Today, initial jobless claims were released, and they continue to decline. The Labor Department reported that new claims totaled 457,000 last week. It's very encouraging that jobless claims are dipping well below 500,000, as they had been above that mark for about a year until recently.
Still, it's hard to tell where November's number will come in. The news was so bad in October that even some of the seemingly positive trends that appeared to be strengthening, like fewer discouraged workers, reversed course. And while fewer jobs were lost in October than in September, more were lost in October than in August. Also keep in mind: the unemployment rate will increase further once those 2.4 million discouraged and marginally attached workers re-enter the job market.
Seasonality also played a role last month, as the unadjusted rate was actually flat at 9.5%. Presumably some hiring ramps up during the holiday season, since retail stores need more workers to cope with shoppers. If that's the case this year, then that could have helped hiring in November. Yet, if seasonality already takes this additional hiring into account, then it could actually make matters worse if this year's holiday hiring lags behind the norm.
This should all make for another month where the rate is pretty hard to predict. But give it a shot below!