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New jobless claims fall 30,000 from previous week to 339,000

By Ricardo Lopez and Don Lee, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — The number of people filing new jobless claims plunged last week to a 41/2-year low.

Analysts said the report Thursday probably overstates what appears to be a moderately improving job market. It comes just days after officials reported that the unemployment rate fell in September to a post-recession low, which caused some Obama administration critics to claim that political interference skewed the data.

Thursday’s report showed that there were 339,000 initial claims for unemployment benefits in the week that ended Saturday, a steep decline of 30,000 from the previous week.

The data are seasonally adjusted, and the claims numbers can be highly volatile from week to week, especially when there is a holiday or the weather is bad and government offices are closed. Early Thursday, skeptics began raising doubts over the weekly jobless claims report.

Business Insider, an online news blog, published a story saying California did not process all its jobless claims, contributing to the drop in claims last week. The post, which was widely circulated on Twitter and on the Web, cited an unnamed Labor Department source.

California officials, in a statement, promptly blasted the report and demanded a retraction.

“Reports that California failed to fully report data to the U.S. Department of Labor, as required, are incorrect and irresponsible,” said Pam Harris, director of the state’s Employment Development Department. “It’s unfortunate that this ‘reporter’ and others who repeated the article’s erroneous statements chose to speculate rather that report.”

In an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times, Business Insider editor Henry Blodget, who wrote the report, said the publication stood by the story.

Last week former General Electric chief Jack Welch tweeted that September jobs data were manipulated by the White House.

Welch, who was met with a barrage of criticism after his Twitter post, later defended his position in a column for The Wall Street Journal. In his op-ed piece, he reiterated his claim that it was unlikely that the jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent last month from 8.1 percent in August — the lowest since January 2009, when President Barack Obama was sworn into office.

With the November presidential election less than a month away, charges of political bias in employment data have surfaced.

Some elected officials have raised questions over how the Labor Department handles reports.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has questioned how the government handles jobs data.

Issa “believes there are legitimate questions about the Department of Labor’s method for calculating unemployment” and has “specifically pointed to the frequent revisions” of those numbers by the department after they are released, said his spokesman, Frederick Hill. But Issa has no plans to hold a hearing on the controversy over the latest jobs data, Hill said.

Jobless claims reflect layoffs, which have receded somewhat in recent months even as there’s been little evidence of any big movement in hiring. The last time weekly claims were as low as 339,000 was in February 2008 as the economy was beginning what would be a rapid descent. Initial jobless claims rose to a high of 586,000 near the end of 2008, peaking at 667,000 in March 2009.

Over the last year, initial weekly claims generally have been hovering in the high-300,000 territory.

To smooth out the week-to-week volatility, many analysts look at a four-week moving average of new jobless claims. That figure fell 11,500 to 364,000 for the period ending Oct. 6 — the lowest reading for the measure since May 2008.

“Today’s 339,000 likely exaggerates the improvement, but its story and the direction of the labor market is real,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York.

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LVS, you’re WAY too angry at the world!

Gma Jean 30.000 is about the size of Mason City. Were talking about the whole country. If Obama is trying to sell this as good news? He has been drinking to much Obama beer. Speaking of beer he looked loaded at the last debate.

I thought I read somewhere that 1 state forgot to report its quarterly refiles.

I think you just like to make things up. Shut it before you talk about stuff you don’t know about.

Gma Jean, be nice. Don’t give Democrats a bad name. (Republicans are already doing that.)

I know what I’m talking about and I don’t make things up. You’re the one who lives in a fantasy world. California had not submitted all its unemployment figures:

NO waiting! Wheel MAN – JUST PURCHASED A NEW WRECKER FOR REPO SERVICE. Thanks for shopping here.

This is why we need to re-elect Obama in 2012. He’s really done wonders for us in America. There’s no way Romney is able to this. Vote for Obama please, he’s the right choice.

Man you must be loading up on all your state and federal bennies – are you a school teacher ? this summer you can run my new repo wrecker – I’LL call you wheel woman!

Yeh-like I would believe this crap. Every single report from businesses says they are not hiting and have no intention of hiring until after the election and if Obama by some miricle get re-elected a lot of the big ones are saying they are going to close down their business buecause they can not operate under the kind of suppresion Obama is putting out. They are playing with the numbers and think we are all as stupid as the democrats.

You rip off siding salesman know everything. I don’t believe a word you say!

Must be Peter Children hiding his name again.

And by the way, if you are the socialist, liberal communists I think you are your opinion doesn’t count at all. Get a life.

Not Peter just one of your other fans. Are you using that prescription drug entitlement program that socialist George Bush passed for you comrade?

Hey AnyMouthy-yes I use the prescription drug plan as do most all us on Social Security. Meybe Bush put it in but Obama has expanded it by closing the donut hole. You really need to get out more and research what you mouth says. It is not a entitlement as I pay for it each and every month. Almost everything I use is a generic and is the same price regardless of wether you have insurance or not. As far as the communist crack, I was using that when you were in diapers which was probably last year. I am a Independent not a socialist Democrat so wake up commie.

Hey AnyMouthy-I think you are Peter Children. You sound just like him with your ignorant comments about something you know nothing about. Go play with the children.

@LVS Maybe you should do a little research. Yes you do pay to use it and the taxpayers also pay for you to use it just like social security and medicare if taxpayers are putting money into the program it is an entitlement. Again not Peter Children or a democrat I’am also Independent and almost fifty years old. As usual you think you are smarter than everyone that disagrees with you. I just like pointing out the hypocrites like you that blame Obama for making this country socialist country when it has been and will continue to be so even when the conservatives are in the white house. You should see someone about your Peter Children Obsession.

Hey Anymouthy-I paid into Social Security for well over 50 years and most years paid in the maximum required. I guess that would mean that I AM entitled to at least the money I have put in back. My Dad also paid for over 45 years and died before he could get any back so I guess that would be mine as well. I also pay over $300.00 p/mo for medicare and another $400 for RX Insurance and Health Supplemental. Now that is $700.00 p/month and does not even include the co-pays we have on our meds. The point is, we pay our own way and always have. How about you??

@Anymouthy-If Social Security didn’t have to pay for big mouth leeches like you and the rest of the welfare baby’s it wouldn’t be broke.

@LVS Again with the name calling. First off I think you deserve all benefits you are collecting and never said you weren’t. When I retire in fifteen years I will be collecting the benefits I have been paying for my whole life. Instead of admitting that the prescription benefit is an entitlement and Bush is just as much a socialist as Obama you call me names and accuse me of being a leech. Funny how you think your entitled to your dads money I have heard that same argument from the leeches. Your dad would probably rather they go to somebody that is truly disabled so his family could eat. If your dad could see some of your posts he would take you to the wood shed for a whipping. A real man would confront someone face to face if they had something bad to say about them.

This is a bunch of crap. They never tell you the true story. Obama wants to take credit and act like the economy is getting bettr. Wrong! They never tell that alot of people quit looking for jobs because there aren’t any out there or there are too many people per job opening and alot of people have exhaused their unemployment benefits so that is why they aren’t signing up. They never give the true pictue. I can attest to that because I am one of the people still out of work!

McDonalds is hiring!

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