Cause For Claims Miss: California, Where Initial Claims Spike To An All Time High
Initial claims for the week ended January 23 were second consensus miss in a row, coming in at 470,000 (SA), a decline of 8,000 from the prior week's downward revised 482,000 (to 478,000), however 20,000 higher than the consensus of 450,000. The comparison of SA and NSA initial claims can be seen on the chart below.
A dig through the data indicates that probably the entire spike in claims can be attributed to some strange moves in Initial Claims coming out of California, where initial claims surged to an all time high of 115,462. Is there more than meets to eye to the "rosy" picture in the Sunshine Golden State.
One explanation for this could be a previously noted administrative problem by the DOL where a backlog of filings had accumulated at processing centers due to, gasp, a shortage of staff. Note however, that the state data lags national data by one week, so the California reporting period was for January 16. Of course this simply means that Initial Claims at the National level had been under-reported in prior periods, as many of these California claims had not been counted. The question of how great of lag there is in other states' data processing must also be asked - readers indicate that many states still have massive wait times for phone processed applications, and result in callers being asked to simply call be at a later date, again and again, concluding with an inability to file an initial claim for any given week.