'Mystery State' Behind Plunging Jobless Claims

Apparent snafu, probably by California, leads to 4-year low
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2012 10:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – Jobless claims plunged to 339,000 this week, putting them at a four-and-a-half-year low and drastically lower than the 370,000 economists expected, the Labor Department announced today. But there was a fly in the ointment. A department spokesperson said that one large state accounted for a large portion of the decline, the AP reports. A Wall Street Journal report indicated that the state "didn't report additional quarterly figures as expected." (MarketWatch thinks it has to be California.)

A CNBC correspondent later tweeted that the state appears to have failed to process "its typical seasonal workload," Business Insider reports. Weekly job numbers are prone to volatility anyway, the department noted. "Throw out the number and we'll try again next week," one trader tells CNBC. Numbers overall are headed in a good direction—the more stable four-week average fell to 364,000; anything below 375,000 is considered a sign the economy is adding jobs. Of course, it's probably a matter of time before Jack Welch says the missing state weirdness is a sign of White House book-cooking. (Read more jobless claims stories.)

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