Jobless claims explode; media spinners blame hurricane

It’s funny how the unemployment data just went haywire as soon as Barack Obama was safely re-elected, isn’t it?  All that ridiculous nonsense about economic recovery and “our plans are working” vanishes in a single week’s worth of data, and we’re right back where we’ve always been: dropping out of the Obama non-recovery into the new Obama recession, if not outright depression.

New jobless claims blew into the stratosphere in the first post-election week, leaping by 78,000 to hit a seasonally adjusted total of 439,000.  The media have almost universally tried to blame that on Hurricane Sandy (which is suddenly “Super Storm Sandy” again, in many press reports.)  As Joel Pollak of points out, that’s balderdash, and it’s so obviously untrue that no serious economic analysis could possibly have mentioned it by accident:

Some of the new claims, especially in New Jersey, were due to Hurricane Sandy–but these were offset by a decline in claims filed in New York. The highest numbers of new filings came from Pennsylvania and Ohio, where there were thousands of layoffs in the construction, manufacturing, and automobile industries.

Both states had been targeted by the presidential campaigns. President Obama highlighted his record of job creation in Ohio in particular, focusing on the automobile industry. The state reported 6,450 new jobless claims in the week after the election–second-highest after Pennsylvania, which recorded 7,766 new claims.

(Emphasis mine.)  See?  Any media outlet ignoring the wave of claims from Pennsylvania and Ohio to claim this is a “hurricane surge” is spinning as hard as Sandy did.  They’re trying to keep buyer’s remorse from settling in too quickly after the election.  It can’t be made too obvious that they helped the Obama re-election team sell Americans a bill of goods, especially when the battle lines for the new debt ceiling drama are being drawn.

The crew at ZeroHedge is also on the case, noting that if Super Duper Ultra Mega Storm Sandy was so obviously responsible for the unemployment surge, the numbers wouldn’t be so much higher than what the “experts” predicted:

Get ready for the “it’s all Sandy’s fault” barrage, because the post-reelection status quo sure will desperately need it today. The latest initial claims data posted a multi-year high 104,548 surge in weekly NSA claims from 361,800 to 466,348, and even the Seasonally adjusted number soaring from 361K to 439K on expectations of a 375K print. In other words, a complete disaster for any economic data bulls.

What is truly amusing is that the same Wall Street “experts” who set expectations were unable to foresee the Sandy effect that every “macrotourist” on Twitter apparently is so very aware of. Also, it is apparently also “Sandy’s fault” (now that the Bush excuse is back in retirement) that the prior week’s claims were revised from 355K to 361K. Basically, just as we said 3 weeks ago, ignore every negative data point: it is Sandy’s fault. However, for the snapback, when there actually is good news to be had, well, “four more years.”

Finally, to all the Sandy apologists: is the logic here that: if Hurricane, then Fire everyone? Because that is what is implied. To summarize: a hurricane is good for GDP (lots of broken windows), but any actually negative news (surge in firings) is perfectly expected.

That’s an excellent point.  Haven’t the Paul Krugman-style neo-Keynesian whack jobs been telling us for years that natural disasters are great for business?  In fact, didn’t Krugman himself make some headlines by musing that an alien invasion of the Earth would be a marvelous economic stimulus?  (In fairness, Krugman’s point had as much to do with his love of totalitarian politics as Keynesian economics; he wanted an alien invasion because he imagined it would suppress political opposition to the total State he favors.)

No doubt there was plenty of employment damage from the hurricane.  As always with those who find themselves on the wrong end of the Keynesian “Broken Window Fallacy” described by Bastiat, their misfortune is worthy of sympathy, and the lost opportunity cost of all that they might have produced without the interference of the hurricane must be counted as part of the damage.  But the notion that an otherwise robust economy was prodded into producing a little one-off belch of bad unemployment data by the storm is not supported by the data… which, as ZeroHedge goes on to observe, is incomplete anyway, due to the Veterans Day holiday.  “Bottom line: guesswork, no actual data reporting, and hurricane excuses,” growls the pseudonymous Tyler Durden.  “Spin, Spin, and more post-election Spin.”