Today, the Department of Labor released a report showing that first-time unemployment-benefit claims jumped by 43,000 in the week ending April 30. This puts them at their highest number in eight months--they're now at 474,000, although analysts had expected them to fall to 410,000. "Not good news," Kevin Drum declares at Mother Jones.
Indeed not. Unlike the mid-April uptick in jobless claims--which was either scary or not, depending on whom you asked--the latest report is being taken pretty widely as a bad sign. Jon Ogg at 24/7 Wall St. calls it "a disaster," while Brad DeLong jokes that "the stalling labor market [is] coming to kill us all." Kathleen Madigan at The Wall Street Journal, somewhat more level-headed, sees the numbers as a harbinger of "softer job markets in the second quarter," and warns: "Don't expect a turn in claims soon. In coming weeks, workers in the South left jobless by the tornadoes will file for benefits."
What else do we have to look forward to? Colin Barr at CNN Money thinks a new round of bond buying isn't out of the question, even though Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke seemed to signal last week that he Just Wasn't That Into QE3. Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic predicts that job growth will continue, "but at a slow space relative to what's needed to whittle down the very high national unemployment rate of 8.8%."
The real tell comes tomorrow, when the government releases its monthly jobs report. According to the Associated Press, analysts predict the report will show that "employers added 185,000 workers to payrolls in April, fewer than in the prior month, and the unemployment rate held at 8.8 percent." But we might be surprised--it's happened before. Check back tomorrow to find out how it goes.
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