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The week ending April 9 was supposed to be a good week for new jobless claims--they were expected to drop from 385,000 to about 380,000. Instead, they rose to 412,000--a climb of 27,000.

This is the highest week-to-week number since February. The four-week rolling average of new claims--which is seen as more reliable, since it's less sensitive to weekly peaks and valleys--also climbed, by about 5,500 to a total of 395,750.

Why'd this happen? The Labor Department has pointed out that jobless claims often jump in the first week of a new quarter, because it's sometimes advantageous for people to wait until a new quarter to file. The Department also said, though, that last week's quarterly uptick in claims was a bigger one than usual.

The new number, 412,000, is significant because it's above the 400,000 threshold, which is usually associated with steady job growth. Claims had been under 400,000 for the past four weeks.

Is this a worrying data point? Depends whom you ask. The Wall Street Journal calls it "another sign of the economy's struggle to pick up the pace," linking it with other recent indicators, like "a poor showing on U.S. trade and weaker-than-expected retail sales during March." (Although at the time, the Journal, and everyone else, called the March retail numbers better than expected.)

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that even though jobless claims are up, "the broader trend points to a slowly healing jobs market." So, potato, potahto.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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