Jobless Claims - The Economic Miracle That Wasn't

Tyler Durden's picture

The noise in the jobless claims data over the past few months has been unprecedented and yet the impressive jump lower in recent weeks has been trumpeted as the all-clear for Tapering and as a signal that the recovery is 'real' this time. Except, thanks to a huge 'glitch' in Florida's new CONNECT unemployment claims website, the data is completely FUBAR...

 

Via The Miami Herald,

The story so far...

Florida’s ongoing claims for unemployment benefits plummeted to the lowest level in six years from mid-October to early December. The average of 20,000 fewer weekly claims from the prior nine weeks represents a plunge of 18 percent, the sharpest decline in 15 years.

 

Yet rather than herald an improving job market, chalk up Florida’s shrinking claims numbers instead to the troubled debut of the state’s unemployment claims website, CONNECT.

And echoing Obamacare's SNAFU...

Since its October launch, the $63 million website has been plagued by glitches, sowing confusion and despair among many of the 235,000 claimants who file every other week to help pay for essentials like food and rent.

 

Difficulties in logging on or navigating CONNECT have precluded thousands from collecting.

With significant implications...

I’m about to be thrown out on the street,” said Allen Schwalb of Seminole, who was laid off from a warehouse job in October but as of this week had yet to receive any benefits despite many attempts to file. “The state now owes me $1,400 for eight weeks of unemployment. I don’t know what I will do if I don’t receive it soon.”

 

...

 

Upon going live Oct. 15, the CONNECT site struggled anyway.

 

Unemployment offices were packed with those who said they couldn’t log on. Phone lines were jammed. Calls were dropped. Frustration grew.

To which the government first denied...

Some of the press stories about CONNECT have been incomplete and focused on a narrative that is more likely to grab readers than to accurately report facts,” Panuccio told the Senate’s Commerce and Tourism Committee on Nov. 4.

Then admitted...

By December, however, Panuccio conceded all was not going well. The project was no longer meeting expectations. He posted messages on the DEO’s website acknowledging difficulties.

Which means, simply, the data is useless and the people who need it the most are not getting it...

The drop in claims is so dramatic and so precisely coincides with the launching of CONNECT that there can be no other explanation,” Greenfield said. “This is having an effect on a huge group of people. We’re very disappointed in the length of time it’s taken to get these people their benefits.”

 

...

 

Florida is notoriously tight-fisted when it comes to unemployment benefits, which makes CONNECT’s failings even more glaring.

 

“Florida in the last few years has made it virtually impossible to access benefits,” said Maurice Emsellem, a staff director with the National Employment Law Project. “The digital divide is a reality, so why on earth would you require to register online? It’s not fair access.”

But it's going to get worse...

Florida is one of six states that provides job-seekers fewer than 26 weeks of coverage. Now offering 19 weeks, Florida will drop to 16 weeks starting in January. Under Florida law, the lower the unemployment rate (which has fallen to 6.4 percent), the fewer weeks of compensation an unemployed person receives.

 

Once federal unemployment compensations expire, coverage for Ewing and 73,000 other Floridians is immediately eliminated.

It's a narrative we hear all too often - failure of big government, deny, deny, deny, small admission... but any good headline is clung to and any naysayer shrugged off as meaningless, racist, or a doomsayer...