The number of people filing initial applications for unemployment benefits hit an ugly high last week--626,000, the Labor Department reported today. It's the most since October 1982 and it's much worse than what economists were expecting.
Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR, says the data for the last week of January is "highly suspect" because of the "impossibility of correctly adjusting for varying seasonal patterns" in December and January. He suggests waiting until the jobless data on claims filed this week or, more likely, next week is released before drawing conclusions.
One economist says this week's numbers may be good news.
Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics, says this could be a peak--meaning claims could begin to drop back. Here's hoping.