Surge in U.S. Jobless Claims Blamed on Easter and a Grocery Strike

(Bloomberg) -- You can partly blame the Easter Bunny for the biggest jump in weekly U.S. unemployment filings since 2017.

The Easter holiday, which fell three weeks later this year on April 21, likely contributed to jobless claims snapping a five-week streak of declines, as seasonal adjustments for the indicator can be tricky. Many offices were closed April 19 for Good Friday, which isn’t a federal holiday.

Another likely culprit was a strike by workers at supermarket chain Stop & Shop that began April 11 and drew support from Democratic presidential contenders.

Read Bloomberg economists’ take on the jobless claims data

Claims rose by 37,000 in the week ended April 20, and the union represents about 30,000 company workers in New England. On an unadjusted basis, filings climbed across states in that region: Connecticut and Massachusetts claims more than doubled and Rhode Island’s more than quadrupled. The company and union reached a tentative agreement this week.

“This is not mere conjecture,” said Jacob Oubina, senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC. “There was a notable breakout in claims filings in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island -- the states most impacted by the strike. Look for a big reversal lower in the coming week.”

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