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Does Not Compute: DOL Continues To Paint Rosy Jobless Claims Picture As Challenger Sees "Surge" In Unemployment

Does not compute.

That may be the best way to summarize the discrepancy between the statistically-massaged, seasonally-adjusted initial claims data reported by the DOL, which moments ago printed at 277K in the latest week, modestly higher than the 267K reported last week, and just above the 271K expected, however as the chart below shows, the claims trend remains at the lowest level seen in decades.

Even more curious was the drop in Continuing Claims which declined from 2244K to just 2191K, below the 2,230K expected, suggesting tomorrow's NFP report should have no problem priting above 200K.

Which on the surface is great... and then one looks at the Challenger Job Cuts report released just an hour earlier, which painted a dramatically different picture. From the Challenger report:

The third quarter ended with a surge in job cuts, as U.S.-based employers announced plans to shed 58,877 in September, a 43 percent increase from the previous month, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

 

The September total was third largest of the year behind July (105,696) and April (61,582). It was 93 percent higher than the 30,477 planned layoffs announced the same month a year ago.

 

In all, 205,759 job cuts were announced in the third quarter, making it the largest job-cut quarter since the third quarter of 2009, when planned layoffs totaled 240,233.

It gets even more confusing when looking at the full year trend, where one notices that so far in 2015, employers have announced 493,431 planned layoffs, 36 percent more than the 363,408 cuts tracked from January through September a year ago. The year-to-date total is actually 2.0 percent higher than the 2014 year-end total of 483,171. "The Q3 total was 40 percent higher than the previous quarter’s 181,213 job cuts. It was 75 percent higher than the third quarter of 2014, when 117,374 job cuts were announced."

 

Some commentary: "Job cuts have already surpassed last year’s total and are on track to end the year as the highest annual total since 2009, when nearly 1.3 million layoffs were announced at the tail-end of the recession,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas."

Most damning was the report of layoffs in the west, which according to Challenger just spiked to the highest in over three years, on the back of the mass terminations announced by Hewlett Packard in September, just so the company can buy back more stock.

And some concluding observations from Challenger:

For the year, the biggest job cutting sector is energy, which has announced 72,708 job cuts since January 1. Most of the energy cuts occurred in the first half of year, with just 12,208 job cuts recorded in the latest quarter.

 

“While oil cuts have slowed, the issues that helped drive oil prices down in the first place are still impacting the economy. We continued to see the ripple effect of low demand last month when heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar announced plans to reduce its workforce over the next year- and-a-half,” said Challenger.

 

We could see more fallout, which appears to have its origins in China, which after years of building up its national infrastructure appears to now have far too much capacity. As a result, manufacturing plants, retail stores and even entire apartment building are sitting empty.

Someone is lying, or perhaps the US Department of Labor simply did not get the memo?