"Unexpectedly." It recent overuse by the Associated Press almost makes me nostalgic for the "green shoots" that the mainstream media kept seeing last year in the midst of rising unemployment and other bad economic news. When you see the AP use that adverb nowadays, you almost always know it involves depressing news on the economic front and this time they did not dissapoint with their story about a sharp increase in jobless claims:
WASHINGTON-- The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months. The surge is evidence of how volatile the job market remains, even as the economy grows.
Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 471,000 last week, up by 25,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first increase in five weeks and the biggest jump since a gain of 40,000 in February.
The forecast had been for claims to fall by around 4,000 from the previous week.
Yes, it was all so "unexpected." And here is a compendium of the AP's favorite adverb in describing bad economic news in recent months starting with a double use in headline and subtitle of another lousy jobless claims report in early April:
Initial jobless claims increase unexpectedly
New claims for jobless benefits increase unexpectedly, while total benefit rolls drop
From February, a certain adverb "unexpectedly" rears its ugly economic head:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of newly laid-off workers filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week, evidence that layoffs are continuing and jobs remain scarce.
The rise is the fourth in the past five weeks. Most economists hoped that claims would resume a downward trend that was evident in the fall and early winter.
Although the frequency of "unexpectedly" has unexpectedly risen in the past few months, it was already the AP adverb of choice a year ago as you can see in this May 2009 story:
Deterred by immigration laws and the lackluster economy, the population growth of Hispanics and Asians in the United States has slowed unexpectedly, causing the government to push back estimates on when minorities will become the majority by as much as a decade.
Even early in the Obama administration, April 2009, "unexpectedly" was making its appearance, in stark contrast to when economic news during the Bush era was frequently described as grim even when it was "unexpectedly" good:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people filing new jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, while those continuing to receive benefits hit a record for he 10th consecutive week.
So will all this "unexpectedly" bad economic news cause Rick Newman of the U.S. News & World Report to revised his opinion that all this unemployment is really great news? Not unless something makes Rick unexpectedly change his fantasy forecasts.
So have any green shoots been spotted lately? The good news is yes. The bad news is that it is, well, bad news as you can see in this May 7 story title:
CHART OF THE DAY: No Green Shoots At All For The Long-Term Unemployed
This mornings unemployment report was mixed. Jobs were created at a clip faster than economists expected, but unemployment rose as more workers started looking for jobs again.
But here's one slice that wasn't mixed. The number of long-term unemployed is shooting straight up with nary a green shoot in sight.
Say goodbye to "green shoots" and bid hello to "unexpectedly."