A department spokesman said several states said their numbers were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Although the department did not say specifically which states were involved in the increase, unemployment offices in hard-hit New York were closed two weeks ago because they had no electricity. Given that many businesses remain closed because of storm damage, the spike in new claims could continue for two or more weeks.
First-time claims showed a large spike in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
“Based on previous extreme-weather episodes, we typically see the associative claims coming in over several weeks,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics Ltd. in Valhalla, New York, said before the report. “It’s not a booming labor market, but it is a recovering labor market. Certainly prior to the storm, there was no sign that there was any deterioration.”First-time claims have generally fallen into the 360,000-390,000 range for the past year. That compares with levels of 300,000-330,000 in the year before the Great Recession began in December 2007.
For all programs, both state and federally funded emergency extensions, the total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending Oct. 27 was 4,977,808, a decrease of 100,423 from the previous week. For the comparable week of 2011, there were 6,773,260 persons claiming benefits in all programs.