The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending February 1 were in Wisconsin (+5,041), New York (+4,830), Pennsylvania (+2,448), New Jersey (+1,853), and Ohio (+1,780), while the largest decreases were in California (-9,631), Georgia (-2,558), Indiana (-2,444), Michigan (-2,411), and Florida (-1,387).Ouch! New claims spiked from 9,720 during the week that included MLK Day, to 14,761 in the following week. This graph will show that this came after a stretch of lower unemployment claims, but this also was more than just a typical seasonal jump, as the 14,761 is nearly 20% above the 2013 amounts for the same week, and is almost back up to 2012's new claims numbers in Wisconsin.
And early numbers from the Wisconsin DWD indicate that it wasn't a one-week fluke, as preliminary numbers show that initial unemployment claims remained at a high level last week, staying near 14,000. These numbers aren't finalized, so I won't put them into the chart until next week (I also want the 50-state comparison there), but it does not bode well for the February jobs figures, which should have been surveyed this past week.
The mystery to me is that with Walker's tax cuts being passed by the State Assembly this week, you'd think the state's newspapers would want to take notice of this potential slowdown in the state's economy, which very well could reduce the surplus that is being used as justification for this Bush-like proposal. But instead the Journal-Sentinel and both Madison papers have neglected to inform their readers of this "Number 1 in the Nation" status. Which explains that when I tweeted this news out, over 20 others retweeted it (an extremely rare occurrence for me), and several more tweeted my follow-up asking why the media hadn't picked it up.
It also explains why I'm bringing it up here, so you can let others know when Walker tries to intimate things are going in the right direction in Wisconsin. Because these unemployment claim numbers would indicate that Wisconsin's economy was as cold as the weather in first half of February. Now maybe things get back to decent growth as the temperature gets to the 30s and 40s next week (!!!), but it certainly seems to have hit a snag early on in 2014.