Headlines from coast to coast blared the wonderful economic news this morning: “Jobless claims fall to lowest in four and a half years,” as Reuters put it.
Why didn’t it say “unexpectedly?” Not a single major media headline used that word. But they always say “unexpectedly” for bad economic news, at least since January 2009. I don’t know what changed in January 2009, but it’s funny how completely and suddenly every piece of bad economic news became “unexpected.” Maybe the reporting will change again in January 2013. Who can say?
But this particular development really was unexpected. “Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 30,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000,” reported Reuters. Analysts were expecting about 370,000 claims.
We don’t get a whiff of the “unexpected” until seven paragraphs in: “A Labor Department analyst noted that seasonal factors had predicted a very large increase in claims last week, which he said would be typical for the first week of the calendar quarter. Unadjusted claims did rise, but far less than expected, resulting in the sharp drop in the seasonally adjusted figure.”