The number of Americans who sought unemployment benefits last week jumped to an 18-month high, largely a side-effect of the superstorm that battered parts of the East Coast.
First-time jobless claims soared by 78,000 to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 in the week ended Nov. 10, the Labor Department said. A government spokesman said applications surged in the parts of the country that lay in the path of Hurricane Sandy.
The aftermath of the storm has made it all difficult to get a good read on the health of the economy or labor-market trends: is hiring improving, weakening or staying the same?
“The bottom line is that in coming weeks the data will be extremely volatile and will likely not reflect the true picture of the labor market developments,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva of BNP Paribas.