Today's ugly initial claims number has already found its scapegoat: excess February snowfall. As the NCDC charts below demonstrate, February 7-13 drought/snow debt levels were certainly material. This has caused reputable firms such as Stone & McCarthy to speculate that weather sensitive jobs, such as construction, have "probably suffered." Yet with ongoing inclement weather, with today's Nor'Easter being no exception, this "non-recurring" component will be a prevalent one for at least 2 more weeks, allowing pundits to provide whatever explanation they wish to recent not so good Insurance Claims patterns.
In the meantime, the SA/NSA Insured Unemployment Rate spread tightened marginally by 10 bps and has compressed from 110 bps in early January do 80 bps currently, with the SA Insured Unemp Rate at 3.5% and the NSA 80 bps higher.
And while the national unemployment rate has finally started to track the Insured Unemployment Rate lower, seen by many as a precursor to economic improvement, the NFP number is now expected to also follow the weekly claims deterioration and suffer, courtesy of the intangible, one-time item aka snow. Why blame on the economy something that snow can take all the blame for? Expect snow to be a major factor in Obama's TV conferences over the next 3 weeks (it already made Bernanke's Senate grilling earlier).