Did Unemployment Claims Jump Again or Were They Just Wrong the Last Time?

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Weekly unemployment claims rose to 388,000 last week, but everyone is still so confused about last week's report, that no one really knows what to believe. Seven days ago, the number took a huge drop to 339,000, but was immediately followed by speculation that something was amiss. Business Insider blamed California—who was not amused—but the Bureau of Labor Statistics never did give anyone a straight answer about why the numbers were so far off expectations. Fast forward to this morning and the number missed expectations again, but this time in the opposite direction, coming in about 20,000 claims higher than predictions. So economists are wondering if that's just making up for last week's inaccuracy, if it's signals a real jump in the number of unemployed (and real trouble in the economy), or if these reports are just too wild to put any real faith into them. It's highly possible that all of those things are true.

If we didn't have an election coming up in less than a month, it's doubtful anyone would be paying attention at all. However, when everything seems to hinge on the economy, any and all data points will be examined within an inch of their life. The October monthly jobs report, which will arrive four days before Election Day, may be the most tweeted economic moment of all-time. So try no to lose your mind before then.

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