In the economics world, Thursdays means initial jobless claims, and that means yet another favorable statistic that has naturally suspicious people scratching their heads. Initial claims—the number of people filing for unemployment benefits—fell to 339,000, well below the previous week's numbers, which was already below what analysts were predicting and the lowest number this report has seen in more than four years. A nice surprise for the incumbent. Was it a little too nice?
A closer look at the numbers seemed to reveal to some that one entire state (and a large one at that) didn't submit any numbers to the Department of Labor. That turned out to be false (mostly), but the initial speculation was enough to get the ball rolling on the conspiracy theories once again.
First the explanation. CNBC's Kelly Evans did some digging and figured out that all 50 states did report their jobless claims, but that one state's numbers were way off the expected tally. Either they didn't make the proper seasonal adjustment or that seasonal adjustment didn't actually happen. Later on, Business Insider's Henry Blodget got word from a source that California was the culprit, because it didn't include all of its claims when it submitted its numbers—not out of malice, but because they probably got overwhelmed and simply couldn't process them all in time for the reporting deadline. Those claims will still be counted eventually, either in a future report or in a revision to this report that will come in a few weeks. (The number crunchers are always revising reports from previous months, when new data and more time give them a chance to make the report more accurate.)